The gym can be an intimidating place sometimes. When you have pieces of equipment you aren’t familiar with it can be embarrassing to try and use them or figuring out what they or for. With so many mirrors all over the dang place it seems like everyone is watching you!
So is it worse to use a piece of equipment like an exercise ball wrong or just not use it and avoid the problem?
Honestly the answer is both, which is why we wrote this article to help! Exercise balls are just too useful to be forgotten but you don’t want to use them incorrectly and hurt yourself either. With that in mind we have the top five uses for the exercise ball.
The Exercise Ball Basics
An exercise ball is also known as a balance ball or Swiss ball. They can come in a lot of different sizes and densities. The idea is to use a different one based on your body size. People use them for abdominal exercises, pregnancy support, aiding with back pain, and as a way to increase balance and agility during workouts. You can buy one for home use or just use ones at the gym.
The easiest way to get used to a balance ball is to sit on one and bounce for awhile and your body will become used to the motion. To find the right size ball you need to sit on it anyway. When sitting your body should form nice 90 degree angles at the hips and the knees much like when sitting in a properly sized chair. Bouncing up and down will help aligning your body to more of a straight up and down posture (because if you lean you can fall off in that direction). It can be a nice way to warm up while stretching your upper body.
Exercise Ball Uses
Lower Back Therapy – Physical therapists often use exercise balls to create workout programs for people with back injuries. It is low impact, provides simple movements, and can keep the spine in a neutral position.
Abdominal Exercises – Exercise balls are most commonly used for abdominal work. People incorporate them to sit or lie on while doing crunching or twisting motions. They are also used for planks and other core exercises. The necessity for the body to use trunk stabilizers adds an extra dimension to the workout making it harder and more effective for the entire core.
Pregnancy – You can use an exercise ball as a seat during pregnancy, during labor, and after the birth of a child. It is great to sit and lean on during pregnancy because it can help relieve strain on the hips and lower back. Plus it works great as a stool or chair because you can bounce up off it compared to a chair. It can be used for positioning during labor and is also a great tool after birth to start a workout program.
Balance & Stability Training – Doing dumbbell exercises while using a balance ball to sit on or lean against forces the body to adapt by using muscles in the trunk and core for stability to keep you balanced. Use a light pair of dumbbells and experiment with which exercises you can do such as shoulder presses, lateral raises, or curls.
Strength & Power Training – Heavier balls (commonly considered medicine balls) are great for working your trunk muscles along with explosive power. You can throw them over-head, under-handed, off to the side, and generally in any sort of natural motion you wish. Some people use a training partner to throw balls back and forth from a distance. Training by yourself you can throw the ball against a wall or towards the ground. This will help with strength and power used in specific motions and is great for athletes.