As a strength and conditioning coach your toolbox has to be large. That is to say that the amount of different training methods, equipment, and techniques that you use, needs to be varied so you may adapt to any situation. With this in mind I have found myself programming Mini Band exercises lately as a method of improving knee stability, and squat patterning. I have found that these Fitness Loops work very well in grooving the patterns and strengthening the hip in a way that is conducive to a move stable lower limb. I would like to share with you some of the techniques I have been using these bands for. By no means is this an extensive list on the use of Mini Band and a quick Google search would turn up many more exercises and techniques that I am about to share.
I have been having my athlete use 1 of 2 separate band placements when performing the Mini Band exercises. They will either have their band around their ankles, or around their knees. The ankles will add more resistance as the band is in a further stretched position. However I use the knees most often as for people with valgus collapse it will cue them to externally rotate their femur and minimize this collapse.
Mini Band Squat
The Mini Band squat is a great drill to groove the squat pattern for the athlete. The athlete will start with the Mini Band just above their knee as seen above and extend their arms out in front of them to counter balance. After achieving this position sets of squats can be performed. The mini band will allow the client to sit back more into the squat as well as externally rotate their hip so as to have the knee tracking over the toes and preventing valgus collapse. If I find an athlete is having trouble with valgus during sets of squatting movements I will often turn to a variation on this exercise during the rest periods on their program to help correct this problem.
Mini Band Lateral Shuffle
I use the Mini Band lateral shuffle often in warm-up, pre-hab portions of exercise program design. I find it to be a great drill to allow athletes to be aware of their hip external rotator musculature during their program. Athletes will get a “burning” sensation in their back pocket indicating that their glutei musculature is firing during the lateral shuffles. The key for this exercise is to have the client keep their feet relatively wide throughout the whole shuffle and not allow their base of support to creep too close together which will take the tension off the band. Distances of 5-10yards are typically used.
Mini Band Low Barrier hop and stick
This exercise is used in almost all of my movement session warm-ups. I find that it adds extra resistance to the lower limb and activates the hip external rotators, which teaches a stable landing position. This will help to prevent energy leaks when sprinting and jumping tasks are being performed ensuring maximal force transfer.
As you can see a few Mini Band drills put strategically into your plan can help to enhance the overall benefit of the training process. There are many more exercises, and drills that are able to be performed using this piece of equipment and I encourage you to seek them out and grow your toolbox. After all Mini Bands are tiny, relatively inexpensive, and easy to transport which means they are a useful tool for any level of strength and conditioning professional.
Do you use mini bands in your training? let me know in the comments below.