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...
"Exercise balls are very forgiving," says Sullivan.
"You can't break them, and more importantly, they won't likely hurt the
To begin, you should find an exercise ball that is appropriate
for your size.
"The strength of an exercise ball is
really important, as is the size of the ball," says Cotton.
Exercise balls come in a range of sizes; to
be appropriate for a person's size, it should allow the hips and knees to relax
at a 90-degree angle, while the back is in a neutral position.
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.