Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Exercise Balls - What Are They Good For?

If you take exercise classes at various gyms, you might have come across one that uses exercise balls.  Exercise balls are large balls you can sit on or in my case slide off onto the ground and originally comes from Italy.  The exercise ball was created in 1963 by Aquilino Cosani who manufactured plastics but he name it the "Prezzi" ball.  Physical Therapists discovered the ball and soon integrated it into their routines to help people recover.  

American physiotherapists were so impressed with it that they brought it over to the United States in the 1980 and renamed it the Swiss ball.  Soon it was used in exercise routines and at home.  I know people who use an exercise ball instead of a chair when they sit at a desk.  

The exercise or stability ball is excellent for improving core stability by working three sets of muscles.  The first set of muscles are the deep abdominal muscles also known as the Transverse abdomens.  The second set are the back muscles that help support the spine also known as the Tultifidus and the final set is the lower back muscles that help the lower spine and pelvic region known as the Quadratus Lumborum.

These three sets of muscles are deep in the body and often harder to work than many other sets of muscles.  Exercise balls are quite good for working these muscles because your body uses all three sets when balancing on the ball. These are the same muscles used to protect your spine while strengthening your core muscles which help you with lifting, bending, throwing, reaching, and running.  

In addition, stability balls can be used to increase flexibility by warming up and stretching muscles which can decrease the possibility of injury while keeping joints and muscles in good shape.  These balls can also expand the range of motion while doing crunches, and sit-ups.  For me, exercise balls made it easier for me to perform sit-ups because my lower back didn't hurt. 

Exercise balls help people practice "Active Sitting". Most of us sit in chairs comfortably which can decrease our flexibility and core stability but if you sit on an exercise ball, your internal core muscles are engaged, forcing your body to improve it's core stability.  It can also improve your posture, and helps improve the muscles of your lower back and pelvic region.  

There are  five reasons one should include a stability ball as part of the workout routine. 

1.  When an exercise ball is incorporated in a work out, it can improve the results of exercises that rely on body weight such as planks, push-ups, or sit-ups.

2.  Stability balls can increase core stability especially if you use the ball instead of a bench for exercise.  The ball can make exercises such as rows, dumbbells presses or bicep curls more challenging and more rewarding.

3. If you incorporate exercise balls into your cardio workout as part of planks, or wood chops, it can increase the rate of burn during the session.

4. When athletes use exercise balls during their workouts, they can increase body awareness as it moves through space, balance, coordination, and posture which means increased fitness and better sports performance.

5.  When using an exercise ball during resistance training, it can increase the amount of resistance making the workout more effective.

The great thing about exercise balls is that they can be deflated and put away when not in use if you don't have enough room or use it instead of a chair at your desk so you can integrate a bit of exercise during your day.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

No comments:

Post a Comment