A guide on the use of stability or exercise balls



Stability or exercise balls have recently become a popular exercise device. These balls have been used in rehabilitation and physical therapy settings for many years but are becoming more widely available for use in commercial or corporate fitness centers. The stability or exercise balls provide an effective way to distribute body weight and allow a wide range of activities to be performed. Because they provide good support for the body, they can be safely used to enhance muscular endurance and flexibility.

As with any exercise device, there are some general guidelines that should be considered to assure that the exercises are done safely.

Body Alignment

Exercise done on the stability ball should always incorporate postures that enhance good alignment. Neck hyper-extension, for example, should be avoided when working prone on the ball.

Ball Size

Stability or exercise ball come in variety of sizes. The most common sizes are the 53 and 65 cm balls that are useful for exercises done in a seated position or when lying prone or supine over the ball. In general, the size of the ball should allow the participant’s hips and knees to be positioned in 90⁰ of flexion. Smaller balls (42 or 53 cm) are most useful for exercise done in the supine position with the legs or feet in contact with the ball.

Speed of Movement

Various speeds of movement can be utilized, depending on the goal of the specific exercise performed. In general, exercises performed at a slow and controlled pace provide the safest form of activity while enhancing the participant’s ability to utilize proper muscle stabilization.

Exercise Progression

Exercise should progress from easiest to hardest. One should not advance to a more difficult exercise until he or she can demonstrate good control over body alignment in the less advanced exercise. If an exercise causes discomfort or pain, it should be avoided. Pain is always a contraindication for an exercise.
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