Having a 'Ball' With Exercise
Exercise balls are a recent trend in fitness, and they target muscles that are often forgotten.
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Mastering the Bounce continued...
According to Spine-Health.com, to find a "neutral lumbar
- Slouch slightly while on the ball by rounding the lower and upper
- 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
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
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.
Before hopping on and going for a roll,
there are a couple of things to be aware of when using an exercise
"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
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."