Posted by Julie Malady on 3/21/2013
Have a Ball With Exercise –
Balance balls (also called exercise balls, therapy balls, stability balls and fitness balls, among others) were invented back in the 1960’s. Since then their usage has increased immeasurably. Using balance balls helps to strengthen the core, to strengthen abdominal and back muscles, to strengthen and improve posture, to help or prevent back pain, and also to help with the range of motion of the arms and upper core strengthening.
When selecting a ball for therapeutic or other exercise use, sit on it and make sure the hips are level or just higher than the knees. 90 degree of hip flexation should be distributing the weight evenly. Sit on the center top of the ball for best stability, not on the sides. Exercise balls come with two plugs and an inflation adaptor.
Balance balls average sizes are 45 cm (18”) for the smallest body height of 4.7-5.0, 55 cm (22”), 65 cm (26”), 75 cm (30”), and 85 cm (34”) for the tallest body height, over 6’7”.
When balancing on a balance ball, an entire network of the body’s muscles are constantly engaged to remain balanced rather than only those muscles that would come in contact with a flat surface. The legs and abs contract continuously to keep the body from sliding off the ball. And that is not even taking into account any actual exercise regimen performed while on the ball.
Balance balls also help with the challenges of learning, and are now used in many classrooms. Children who used to fidget in their flat, molded chair seats could now be using a balance ball to support their body’s range of motion while sitting on the ball. The level of concentration needed for learning has been shown to improve greatly as well as benefiting from much better posture.