Training shoulders with elastic band just as effective as using weights


From Ergo Log

It doesn’t matter whether you do shoulder exercises like lateral raises or external shoulder rotations with dumbbells or with elastic bands. Sports scientists at the National Research Centre for the Working Environment in Denmark discovered this.

The researchers got 16 women with shoulder and neck problems to do lateral raises – on one occasion using an elastic band made by Theraband [], and on the other occasion using dumbbells.

Exercises such as lateral raises and lying external shoulder rotations can help people with these problems.

The researchers placed electrodes on the important muscles in the women’s neck and shoulders, such as the infraspinatus, the medial deltoid and the splenius capitis. The electrodes enabled the researchers to measure the intensity with which the women used their muscles.

On different occasions the women had to do 3 reps with an increasing load – either with heavier weights or with stronger elastic bands. They were instructed to keep their movements controlled.

The figures below show that for the subjects’ muscles it made no difference whether they trained with bands or weights. White circles = exercise performed with dumbbells; coloured circles = exercise performed with elastic band.

The researchers also studied the differences between the lying external shoulder rotation when performed with dumbbells and the same exercise performed with an elastic band. They found no differences here either.

“Comparable high levels of muscle activation were obtained during resistance exercises with dumbbells and elastic tubing, indicating that therapists can choose either type in clinical practice”, the Danes write.

“It should be noted that all exercises were performed in a controlled manner and that differences between elastic tubing and dumbbells may exist during more explosive movements. Whereas the inertia of the dumbbell results in increased total moment of force during accelerative movements, the inertia of the elastic tubing is negligible.”

“Thus, the results of the present study apply only for exercises performed according to general recommendations of basic strength training and rehabilitation (ie, in a controlled manner without sudden jerks or acceleration).”

Phys Ther. 2010 Apr;90(4):538-49.



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