Looking for an easy to adopt, whole body workout? Look no further than the stability ball.
Inexpensive, lightweight, and easily incorporated into any routine, the stability ball has become a fitness staple. Whether doing targeted exercises, or just sitting on a ball while watching TV, there are numerous health benefits from adding a stability ball into your life.
- Core Activation
- Improved Posture
- Inceased Mobility
Core activation is one of the biggest benefits of using a stability ball. Effectively strengthening the smaller core muscles, often overlooked with other exercise, the stability ball can improve balance and prevent back pain. Improved balance in turn benefits all functional movements and helps prevent fall-related injuries.
Using a stability ball won’t automatically result in better posture, but since it is difficult to slouch backward or to the sides, it will act as a constant reminder to maintain proper posture. Furthermore, the muscle activation required to remain upright will help you find a neutral spine alignment.
The muscle activation and neutral spine alignment associated with sitting on a stability ball can also lead to increased low-back mobility. Stiffness in the lower back will likely be improved with increased mobility.
Larry G Merritt and Celynne M Merritt published an article in The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association that documented the results of two individuals that replaced office chairs with stability balls. Both individuals reported reduced pain symptoms. Unable to provide definitive answers from the results of only two cases, the study did provide positive implications regarding decreased back pain with the use of a stability ball.
Choosing the Right Stability Ball Size
The stability ball is typically classified by circumference. The American College of Sports Medicine has come up with the following guidelines to get started:
5’5″ and under
It’s a good idea to try a few sizes to see which feels the best for you. When you sit on the ball, your knees should comfortably form a 90-degree angle.
The ball introduces instability. If you are struggling to maintain balance, try deflating the ball slightly. Less pressure will create more surface tension where the ball hits the floor.
Once you’re comfortable sitting on a stability ball, try replacing your chair at work, or seat in front of the television. Unable to slouch backward or to the sides, sitting on a stability ball will activate the muscles required to remain upright and help find a neutral spine position.
If you sit on a ball for long periods of time, try adding sand to the ball before it is inflated. This will help keep it from rolling as easily.