PT Thought of the Week: Squatting with a resistance band around the thighs… helpful or harmful?

If you’ve ever met me or seen me work with patients in the gym, you know I love glute exercises. They will solve all problems in life, or at least a lot of them related to injuries in the legs and back. But what about using a loop around your thighs to activate those glutes during squats?

A current study looked at back squats with looped resistance bands to determine the effects on muscle activation and knee mechanics.

“Gluteus maximus (GM) activity is significantly increased when a resistance band is used during squatting. However, squatting with a resistance band is detrimental to knee kinematics as it leads to an increase in knee valgus angle and maximum tibial rotation angle.”

What does that mean?

Using a band around the thighs while you squat (with and without load) is a great training tool to activate the glutes ONLY if you are working on alignment and knee mechanics at the same time. If those knees collapse inward (increased knee valgus angle), then the pattern is directly correlated to knee pain. So, if you do that over and over and over, well, you might want to make an appointment with me to get rid of that knee pain that’s been created (ha). Take home point? Listen to your coaches when they correct your form- band or no band- during squats!

Read the full study here, and take a good look at Figure 1 for normal knee alignment.

Dr. Nicole Haas, PT, DPT, OCS is a strong advocate of community outreach and education, and lends her voice and expertise locally and nationally across the wellness and medical community. She is a board certified orthopedic clinical specialist with a doctorate in physical therapy who has been practicing more than 20 years, and is a certified yoga teacher as well. She is dedicated to helping the community understand the tipping point between health and injury, and to promoting understanding of the biomechanics of movement patterns that allow the body to participate in a balanced life. She uses a blend of evidence-based medicine, manual therapy, functional training and exercise to help each individual she works with maintain a healthy and pain-free lifestyle. Read more HERE about Dr. Haas and how she supports the CrossFit Sanitas members and the Boulder community

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