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Having a 'Ball' With Exercise

Exercise balls are a recent trend in fitness, and they target muscles that are often forgotten.

Mastering the Bounce continued...

 

According to Spine-Health.com, to find a "neutral lumbar spine position":

 

  • Slouch slightly while on the ball by rounding the lower and upper back.
  • Begin bouncing lightly.
  • Allow your body to automatically find your straightened posture, which will allow you to maintain your balance and continue bouncing. The straightened posture, which occurs during the "up bounce," is your neutral lumbar spine position.

 

When you feel comfortable practicing "the bounce," you've found your center of gravity, and even changing it slightly, according to Spine-Health.com, will require you to correct it to stay on the ball. This exercise challenges core muscles and is a good introduction to using an exercise ball.

 

When you've got this down, you can introduce more advanced exercises into your regimen.

Exercise Ball Exercises

There are a variety of exercises that can be done on the exercise ball, from spine rotation exercises, to mobility and stretching techniques, to pelvic isolation exercises.

 

"A crunch is a good start for the exercise ball," says Cotton.

 

Simply lie back and rest your calves on the ball, and do a stomach crunch. The difference between doing a ball crunch and a crunch on the floor is that the ball crunch forces you to maintain balance while you perform the exercise, targeting the abdominal and back muscles more directly.

 

"Also, a squat rolling the ball down the wall, with the ball between your back and the wall, targets your leg, back, and stomach muscles," says Cotton.

 

Other exercises include doing a push-up with your hands on the floor and your legs extended on the ball, and leg lifts with the ball squeezed between your ankles. Keep in mind, though, that even sitting on the ball or practicing the bounce is beneficial since it forces proper posture and maintaining a center of gravity.

Ball Beware

Before hopping on and going for a roll, there are a couple of things to be aware of when using an exercise ball.

 

"If a person has an issue related to a sudden, unexplained loss of balance, such as sudden blood pressure changes potentially leading to light-headedness or dizziness, he or she should avoid using an exercise ball," says Sullivan, since balance plays a key roll in this device.

 

Another rule to follow when using an exercise ball is to use it on a soft floor.

 

"Don't use the exercise ball on or near any hard surfaces like a concrete or tile floor, which could cause injury if you fell off," says Cotton. And, as with any exercise, "Progressing gradually in the use of the exercise ball is very important."

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