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October 25, 2023
Author: Eric
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  • *Star Exercise of the Week*: Lat Pulldown with a Resistance Band

This week we are re-visiting performing a lat pulldown using a resistance band.

In honor of breast cancer awareness month, we want to make sure to address return to strength training after treatment for breast cancer.

Initially after surgical removal of breast cancer (e.g., lumpectomy, mastectomy, lymph node removal, reconstruction), chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, you very likely won’t feel like exercising right away.

Especially after surgery, you often will have movement and lifting restrictions. These restrictions must be removed by your surgeon before beginning to exercise the upper body again.

Once you have been cleared to resume exercise, and have already made progress with improving your upper body range of motion, it’s absolutely okay to resume strength training, BUT very gently.

Guidance from a rehab specialist, such as a physical or occupational therapist (PT or OT), is always recommended. It would be even better to work with a PT or OT who is also a Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT) if you are considered at risk for lymphedema.

The focus of exercise after the above-mentioned treatments is to address any range of motion, strength, postural, or functional restrictions. Often times, after surgery and radiation in particular, there is a lot of tightness in the front of the chest, and weakness in the back from a subsequent forward bent posture.

A great, yet gentle, strengthening exercise to begin addressing those weakened areas is a lat pulldown.

The lats, or more formerly known as the latissimus dorsi, are an important muscle group to strengthen.

This muscle group is MASSIVE. It spans on each side of the back, attaching to portions of the thoracic vertebrae, the iliac crest portion of the pelvis, the 9th-12th ribs, and the lower angle of the scapula or shoulder blade.

From these attachment points, the lats then insert onto a specific region of the humerus, or upper arm bone.

The lats are responsible for movement at the shoulder blade due to its attachment there, contributing to the following shoulder motions:

  • Internal rotation

  • Adduction

  • Extension

The lats also play a role in respiration, or our breathing, and spinal stabilization.

See, this is an important muscle group!

Many are familiar with a lat pulldown machine at the gym; however, you can get creative and simulate this same exercise at home using a resistance band. This is a great modification if you are just getting back into a strength routine.

You’ll need a resistance band that is of light, medium or heavy intensity. Any type of resistance band will work just fine, such as the Posture PT Resistance Exerciser, ShoulderFit Resistance Exerciser, or even one of the FitRanger Resistance bands.

Step 1: Starting Position:

  • Hold a resistance band in both hands with the arms stretched overhead.

  • Make sure to stand with a tall, upright posture.

  • You can perform this in standing or sitting.

  • Hold the band with a slight bit of tension pulling the hands a little away from each other.


Step 2: Lat Pulldown:

  • Maintain the bit of tension in the band from your starting position, as you bend the elbows and pull the arms down.

  • Aim to tuck your upper arms and elbows by your side.

  • Make sure to squeeze the shoulder blades down and in (going in the direction of your back pockets)

  • Hold the end of this motion for 2 seconds, then return to your starting position.

  • Repeat 10-15x for 2-3 sets.

There you have it!

Although this is already a gentle exercise, make sure to progress nice and slowly.

Here’s a video you can check out for a more up-close demonstration:

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About the Author Eric

Eric is a marketing technician at RangeMaster and also a shoulder surgery warrior. A severe accident resulted in multiple surgeries and Eric’s recovery was aided in no small part to RangeMaster products. It was because of their amazing product that he could live independent from painkillers and do all the things he loved before the accident (which includes boxing). He lives in Washington with his wife and children, who are the light of his life.

Medical Disclaimer

This website is intended to provide educational information only and should not be taken as medical advice. The information shared on this website is based on research, but is not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional. We recommend that you consult your healthcare provider for any specific questions or concerns you may have. The website does not accept responsibility for any harm that may occur from using the information given on this site. Speak to your medical provider about any health issues!

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