Exercise balls, also known as Swiss balls, have been around in the physical fitness realm for decades. Named after its wide adoption by Swiss physical therapists concerned with postural re-education and back rehabilitation, this fitness tool is made with soft plastic and filled with air.
The basic advantage of using an exercise ball is that your body will respond to the instability of the ball and work towards balancing itself, thus ensuring activation of core muscles. This can help with improving back and spine health, enhancing core stability, posture, and muscle balance.
But that’s not all working out with an exercise ball can do for you. We present to you five benefits of using an exercise ball:
An exercise ball helps reinforce the muscles that support your spinal structure, thereby improving your posture and increasing lower back strength. As maintaining balance on the ball compels you to retain proper posture, this ‘coincidence’ by design improves your spinal column’s strength, posture, and increases blood flow, leading to relief from pain.
Using an exercise ball activates the stabiliser muscles in your core and helps you connect with your centre of gravity. The unstable surface of the exercise ball engages your core muscles to exert extra effort in keeping your whole body balanced while exercising. Not to mention, the elevation offered by the ball allows you to perform a wider range of motion and engagement with smaller muscle groups, inadvertently ignored when working out on a flat surface.
The spherical surface of the exercise ball gives your muscles added stretch. It also drives your body to adapt to the ball’s shape, adjust the position of joints, and expand specific muscle groups to maintain your balance. You may also want to consider using the ball to warm up before a workout commences as this reduces the risk of injury and enhances the functionality of joints and muscles.
Using the exercise ball requires the use of your back and abdominal muscles to maintain balance. The sheer struggle to maintain a proper posture when using the ball improves your overall balance and your proprioception—which is the ability to sense your body parts relative position and actual motion. The exercise ball helps recurring re-evaluation of the position of your limbs and coordination to keep you from falling onto the floor.
This tool happens to be friends with a diverse set of exercise routines. An exercise ball can be incorporated into a number of different exercise disciplines, be it a basic gym workout for exercises such as sit-ups, Pilates, or even resistance training where sitting or leaning on the exercise ball can increase the resistance and add a range of motions to your workout.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to have fun at the gym with an exercise ball.