Exercise Ball Basics
Exercise Ball Craze
My personal exercise regime always includes the exercise ball (also known as a stability ball).
But I have to be honest with you... the first time I sat on a stability ball, I felt anything but stable.
Fifteen years later, I still believe that the words 'stability' and 'ball' should never be strung together in a sentence.
Maybe that's because my initial introduction included a music-synchronized face-plant... and a substantially altered nose. Ouch!
Please... don't let this happen to you!
If you're new to the exercise ball craze, familiarize yourself with the information below. The better you understand the ball and how it works, the more likely you are to use it properly.
The terms stability ball, swiss ball, fitness ball, physio ball, exercise ball, and therapy ball are all synonymous. Yep... go figure.
Benefits of Using an Exercise Ball
Choosing the Right Size Ball
Table 1 above is a general guideline only. Finding the correct ball size involves at least three factors.
As a final test, sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor. In this position, your hips and knees should form a 90-degree angle if the ball is the correct height.
Tip: If you plan on using the exercise ball for weight training, or carry extra weight for your height, spend a bit more and get burst-proof ball (burst-proof up to 500 lbs, supports static weight up to 2,200 lbs).
Proper Ball Posture
Whenever you are sitting on the ball, you should try to maintain what's called a neutral spine position.
Sit on the ball, align your hips directly under your shoulders, and place your feet flat on the floor.
Avoid arching your back (anterior pelvic tilt) or tucking your bum under (posterior pelvic tilt). You want to be somewhere in-between with a very slight, neutral arch.
Maintaining a neutral spine position during ball exercises strengthens muscles in their optimum position. Other benefits include overall improvements in core muscle strength, athletic performance, and posture. And better yet, it reduces the risk of injury.
A stability ball is like any other piece of equipment. It needs to be maintained to function properly -- and that includes pumping it up until it reaches the proper height and firmness.
It's more challenging to balance on a firm ball... but easier to find the neutral spine position. For this reason alone - it's wise to keep your ball properly inflated.
In contrast, a softer ball has greater contact with floor and is less challenging to balance on. This may be a good choice for pregnant women doing exercises in the prone position (stomach down), Methuselah's uncle, or newbies concerned with... uhh...face-plants.
How to Inflate an Exercise Ball
Inflate the exercise ball as specified by the manufacturer. The number printed on the outside of the ball is the recommended height (diameter) of the ball. Use this as a general guideline.
If you're a stickler for details, and you really want to inflate your ball properly here's what to do:
Dr. Peter Francis and his team of researchers at the Biomechanics Laboratory at San Diego State University scientifically analyzed the Ball Crunch and deemed it the "best overall exercise" for the abs.
This free report is jam packed with tips on how to lose pounds with ease!
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