Rehabbing Sports Injuries with Resistance Bands

15th Dec 2018

Rehabbing Sports Injuries with Resistance Bands

Athletes need to do the right kind of exercises on a regular basis to be in fabulous shape, perform well consistently, and prevent common injuries. Resistance bands are excellent for sports professionals after an injury as these can help players add resistance to their motions, improving both strength and flexibility without undue stress on the joints.


Another vital use of such bands is in the recovery process of sports-related injuries. Sports injuries are at times unavoidable, but given the high rate of such incidents (an investigative report conducted in 2014 reported an injury rate of 68% among NFL players alone). Resistance bands are ideal are an ideal tool to use in rehabilitation after a sports injury. These stretchable fitness bands help athletes focus and work on specific parts of the body, which can speed up the process of rehabilitating joints and muscles post injury. 

Some of the common types of sports injuries which can be helped by resistance bands, include:

  • Shoulder pain or dislocation
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Runner's Knee
  • Hip Bursitis
  • Sprains and strains
  • Post-ACL repair


When performing exercises in rehab, even under the guidance of a physical therapist, there is the risk of getting hurt further if the workout becomes too strenuous. But with resistance bands, you can not only exercise isolated muscles, but do so without causing much strain on the area (since they are a low-impact option). That’s not all, the user can also use these bands to work on other areas of the body and increase blood circulation, which aids in a faster recovery. Some of the


When should a person start rehabilitation exercises post injury?


This can depend. Contrary to what some people believe, rehab for sport-related injuries can start at the earliest once the initial 72 hours are over depending on the type of injury. However, the pain should have subsided, barring a few exceptions, and consulting your doctor or a medical professional is the right thing to do before starting the rehab process. It is essential to understand that adopting the incorrect exercises or equipment may harm you more and that the treatment process for every athlete may be different. 

If someone has sustained a sports injury, it's important to have an evaluation with a physical therapist or other rehab professional to create a comprehensive rehabilitation plan that is both safe and effective.

Resistance bands are used for rehabilitation with the following medical professionals:

  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Sports trainers
  • Orthopedists
  • Sports coaches


Resistance bands for rehab are used with different rehab experts for athletes to recover from their injuries, but knowing your limits are also vital. Let’s take a look at the various stages that usually comprise of rehabbing sports injuries.

The 3 Stages of Sports Injuries


Early or acute stage: This stage of the process usually entails light, gentle exercising that will allow your damaged tissue to heal properly. It is crucial to not rush through this step.

Second stage: During this, the physical therapy comprises of exercises such as ones involving the use of resistance bands. This puts a gradual load on the injured bone, ligament, or muscle so that the tissue develops the ability to withstand various strains that come with daily activities. 


Late or functional stage: This is the final step, in which your tissue is stressed via functional exercises and it adapts in order to make you fit enough to return to active sports.


Resistance bands for strength training and rehabilitation of sports-related injuries


Strength and resistance training are crucial for overall fitness as well as to heal from injuries, and resistance bands are well-suited for this type of training. In fact, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services in 2008 recommended the use of resistance training to improve health. Since resistance bands are lightweight compared to the equipment used in weight training, they do not pull you towards the floor and thus reduces the risk of strains and other injuries.


The regular use of bands enhances strength in the muscles, bones, and joints—a reason why physiotherapists prescribe the use of these bands to aid the healing process of sports injuries. The nature of the bands (elasticity and varying lengths) also allow for more variety of exercises and athletes can use these to target particular movements or angles that they want to improve.

Tips for Using Resistance Bands after a Sports Injury


To derive the maximum benefits out of rehabilitation exercises, athletes need to remember a few points. These include:

  1. Keep the movements slow and measured throughout the workout session, especially in the initial stage of the process. 
  2. Resist the urge to increase the pace of exercise too soon. It should be a gradual process. You are not competing for the gold metal right now, at least not yet! 
  3. Once the exercise session is over, place the affected area in icy water in order to make your injuries heal faster. But do consult your doctor first.


Resistance Band Exercises to Use After a Sports Injury

We've discussed that resistance bands can be highly effective in the rehab of sports injuries. Injuries in the shoulders, ankles, and knees are among the most common ones among sports professionals, let's look at a few simple exercises using rehab bands that can be of help in such situations:


Building ankle strength after a sprain


Sprains can be quite painful, and therefore it is critical to start the right strengthening exercises once you are comfortable bearing your own weight. Isometric exercises are recommended as the first step towards healing ankle injuries, post which you can use resistance bands for rehab.

  • Use a resistance band around the forefoot of the injured ankle and hold both ends of the band in your hand. Push your ankle down slowly and gently as far as you can and then return to the starting position. Repeat this process 10 times.


Rehab exercise for the knees


Injuries to the knees are quite common not only among athletes of various sports, but also among civilian population. In fact, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reported approximately 10.4 million cases of knee problems in 2010. Resistance bands can be play a crucial role in increasing strength and resistance in the affected knee following an injury. Try this knee flexion exercise to recover well:

  • Secure the resistance band to an anchor close to the floor. You can also get someone to hold the ends. Use the other end of the band to wrap around one ankle and lie on the floor. The band should be stretched taught when you keep your leg straight. Slowly bend the knee and bring your foot up towards your buttocks before gradually returning to the starting position.

Using Resistance Bands to Recover from Shoulder Injuries

The shoulder is another commonly-affected part of the body when it comes to sports-related injuries. This bent over row exercise can help build strength in the muscles of the upper back and improve posture:

  • Place the resistance band in such a way that the center is underneath your foot. Holding the ends in your hands, keep your arms straight and pointed towards the feet. Bend your elbows out behind your body, and slowly pull upwards. Return to the starting position and repeat.


The key principles of sports injury rehabilitation are generally similar, irrespective of the type of injury that athletes sustain. There is no doubt that using resistance bands for rehab can speed up the healing process, but it is vital to seek professional help before embarking on any new workout regimen to deal with your injuries.