What Is A Stability Ball?
If you’ve spent any time in a commercial gym or yoga studio (with the effects of the global pandemic, we don’t blame you if you can’t remember that far back,) you’ve probably seen several large coloured balls at some point or another. These are known as stability balls. They’re also known as exercise balls, yoga balls, Swiss balls and by several other names. So, what is a stability ball and what is it used for? In this article, we’ll go over the basics of the stability ball and how you can use them to improve your fitness and balance.
What Is A Stability Ball?
Stability balls are large rubber or plastic balls that are filled with air and used for a variety of exercise routines, physiotherapy procedures and other purposes. They were first used in the 1960s in treatment programs for newborn babies and eventually became used in physiotherapy and neurodevelopment care. Stability balls became popular as an exercise tool in the 1990s when they began to be used in fitness programs, yoga and Pilates classes.
Benefits Of Using A Stability Ball
When using a stability ball instead of a flat stable surface, more muscles become engaged. This is because of the need to maintain balance while performing the exercise. Most often it’s the core muscles of the stomach and back that need to work harder. Exercises that are normally done on the ground become much more challenging on a stability ball without any increase in load. This can result in a buildup of strength and balance while reducing the chances of injury.
Choosing The Right Stability Ball
Stability balls come in a range of different sizes. Finding the right size for you will entail sitting on the ball and finding the proper height so that your knees bend at a 90-degree angle. If your knees bend at less than a 90-degree angle you should choose a larger ball and vice versa. Those who are six feet tall or more will generally use a 75-centimetre ball, whereas those shorter than five and a half feet will often find a 55-centimetre ball more comfortable.
Popular Stability Ball Exercises
Most of the exercises that you would do on a stability ball are the same exercises that you would regularly do. The ball simply adds an element of instability which causes your core muscles to engage to regain balance. It’s for this reason that using a stability ball can transform a relatively simple exercise into something much more challenging. Below are a few exercises where using a stability ball that can completely change the difficulty of a movement.
Stability Ball Push Ups
When using a stability ball you can do push ups two different ways. You can place your hands on the top of the ball and your feet on the floor or your feet on the top of the ball and your hands on the floor. People often find having their feet on the ball more difficult, but either way you do this, you’ll have a new appreciation for the difficulty of push ups.
Stability Ball Knee Tucks
Start in the position of a push up with your shins on the top of the ball. Keep your arms straight as you slowly pull your knees up to your chest with the ball rolling under your feet. Slowly roll the ball back to its original position and start again.
Stability Ball Hamstring Curls
This is almost the reverse of a knee tuck. Lie on your back and put your calves on the top of the stability ball. Roll the ball back towards your butt as you bend your knees while bringing the ball closer until your ankles are on the top of the ball. Keep your back bridged and your stomach taut while performing this motion.
Now that you have a better idea of what a stability ball is and how to use it, download a free buyer’s guide for more information.