Mechanicsville, Virginia — At Stover Chiropractic P.C. I’m often trying to find a way for patients to rehab their spine and nervous system. When people seek help for low back pain, injury, sciatica, muscle weakness, or fibromyalgia I try to restore overall function as well as decrease pain. This is done by chiropractic adjustments of subluxations primarily and most importantly. But progress and prevention of future problems can be greatly improved if folks are willing add in some home exercises. I often recommend the use of a gym ball. It is an outstanding way to strengthen the musculature of our core and rehab the nervous system by challenging balance. The following is a simple easy to follow article to use if you would like to start with a simple gym ball routine.
By: Rachel Mork at Life 123.com
Exercise balls, also called fitness balls and swiss balls, have been used by physical therapists for decades. Today, the exercise ball workout is showing up in aerobics and yoga classes, personal training sessions, in homes and even at the office as a replacement for desk chairs. Fitness ball workouts are an effective, affordable way to strengthen the core muscles in your abdominals and lower back.
Choosing an Exercise Ball
Exercise balls go by a variety of names, including fitness balls, stability balls, sports balls and Swiss balls. Constructed of soft flexible plastic, exercise balls range in diameter from 45 to 85 cm in diameter when fully inflated. You’ll choose the best size for your fitness ball workout based on your height.
When you sit on an exercise ball, your hips should be level with or slightly higher than your knees. You’re looking for both proper alignment and what level of firmness for the ball is most comfortable for you. Working out with a firmer ball provides offers more resistance during workouts and challenges your balance. Softer balls generally provide your body with more support, making it easier to maintain your balance which is helpful if you’re a beginner.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for inflation and adjust the level of firmness to your needs, taking care not to overinflate.
- 45 cm balls fit most people under 4’11”
- 55cm balls fit most people between 4’11” and 5’4″
- 65 cm balls fit most people between 5’5″ and 5’11”
- 75 cm balls fit most people between 5’11” and 6’7″
Benefits of Exercise Ball Workouts
Exercise balls are versatile and can be used for a variety of workout moves, but are best known for assisting you in strengthening the core muscles in your trunk. These muscle groups are responsible for protecting the spine and your internal organs and keeping your body balanced and stable at all times. A strong core results in better posture, keeps your lower back safe from injury and may help relieve any lower back you experience now.
The reason exercise balls are so effective when it comes to developing core strength is because they destabilize your body, forcing you to engage your core muscles to remain balanced while you’re exercising. In other words, they make you and your core body do all of the work. Even if you already have a good amount of strength in your core, working out with an exercise ball can up the ante, challenging you to work at a higher intensity in a shorter amount of time.
What attracts most people to exercise ball routines is that the routines themselves favor quality over quantity. Forcing your core muscles to work together rather in isolation, like traditional ab workouts, provides your body with the maximum benefit in the minimum amount of time. Instead of performing high repetitions that target one muscle in your core, you’ll engage several muscles at the same time and work them harder in fewer moves.
Good for Beginners and Experts Alike
Not all fitness ball exercises are suitable for all fitness levels. Always check with your doctor before starting a new workout program, especially if you’re recovering from an injury or are just beginning a fitness program for the first time.
When you first start working out with fitness balls, be sure to choose exercises that meet your current fitness level. If you have poor core strength or significant issues with balance, trying to follow the DVD or video that came with your fitness ball may not just discourage you, it could lead to injury.
Look for exercise ball routines are that targeted for beginners, consult with a personal trainer at your gym or your physical therapist, if you’re working with one. Even trading your chair for a fitness ball when you’re sitting at your desk or watching television has an effect: in order to remain upright, you’ll need to begin engaging those cure muscles. As you continue to build your core strength, you can gradually work up to more challenging ways of using the ball.
Sample Fitness Ball Exercises
Fitness balls are an inexpensive, fun way to build your core strength and bring challenge to your workouts. Some common fitness ball exercises include:
- Crunches. Lie on the floor and place your feet on top of the ball so your knees are bent at 90-degree angle. Place your hands behind your head, thumbs pointing down your neck, elbows wide. Engage your abdominals and use them to lift your shoulders and chest off the ground.
- Leg lifts. Lie on the floor and place the ball between your ankles or lower legs. Keep your arms flat on the floor and engage your abdominals as you slowly lift the ball with your legs. When you’ve gone as high as you want to, pause; then lower the ball slowly until it reaches the ground.
- Assisted squats. Stand tall, with your feet hips’ width apart with your exercise ball placed firmly between your back and the wall. Slowly bend your knees, as though you were going to sit in a chair. When your bent legs form a 90-degree angle, pause and hold the position for up to 30 seconds. Stand slowly, rolling the ball up the wall as you go.