Exercise balls have become an indispensable part of the fitness world!
You cannot walk into a gym or home for that matter without finding one of them lying around. The rate of home invasion of the exercise ball has been phenomenal and with good reason.
Then why does it have the nickname swiss ball? The humble exercise ball was used by Dr Susan Klein-Vogelback who was a swiss physical therapist. She used the swiss ball primarily for postural strengthening and back rehabilitation.
As American physical therapist learnt from her, they brought the exercise ball back north and hence the name, ‘Swiss ball’.
Exercise balls are easy and fun to use, not to mention intuitive.
Put one of these balls in front of a child and you find them sitting, bouncing, stretching, rolling, hopping and doing all manner of play.
Exercise balls are brilliant tools that anyone can use. Whether it be in the gym or at home, the exercise ball is used primarily to build a strong stable set of core muscles as well as help improve posture and balance.
A sphere is as ergonomic and as back to nature as you can get. So having an exercise ball as a ergonomic chair replacement is a no brainer.
I did a search for exercise ball reviews and found tonnes of useless reviews. People seem to be able to make up things to write about anything. An exercise ball is an exercise ball, the difference between make and model is minimal at best.
Having said that, choosing a ball that is right for you takes a little bit of attention. First of all, your exercise ball should be about knee height…and that is about the only criteria for choosing the right size.
The next thing would be to have a ball that is burst resistant. This will avoid any unforeseen explosions, either from too much pressure being applied from hopping onto the ball, accidental puncture or any manner of abuse that the humble ball might encounter. Nowadays, the quality of an exercise ball is pretty standard but still check forums for some of the better ones just to be on the safe side.
Just as an aside, your yoga ball should have a little weight but the heaviness should not be a factor in your decision making as you are unlikely to be bouncing, throwing or lifting the ball. Well, that is not how it is intended to be used but there is no rule against that.
Exercise balls are great for a whole bunch of uses. In fact, any workout routine can be easily enhanced. You can incorporate an exercise ball into your weight training routine, it is versatile enough to be used for making more sophisticated and challenging core building exercises, use it as a chair replacement at home and at the office, enhance your yoga training by stretching over the ball or performing the actual yoga postures with the ball, even pilates has an exercise ball version and as kids often do, simply use the exercise balls as a play toy.
The popularity of exercise balls has spawned a host of free exercise videos. A simply search on Google reveals an obscene amount of exercise footage dedicated to the ball and the best thing is that they are all free.
Not great exercises…and in some cases unsafe exercises but free.
The information that is provided to you is often missing a few cruicial elements. Because the exercise ball is inherently unstable, it poses a twisting risk which can be very dangerous if you do not take proper precautions to guard against mishaps.
Imagine if you were using ankle weights or hand weights and twisting on top of an exercise ball, how easy would it be to over twist or hyperextend in one direction? This is why when you are using the exercise ball, familiarize yourself with the movement, know your limits and stick to them. Don’t try and be a hero and mimic the most sophisticated workout you can find.
Like every movement, experience is essential, do it slow and sophisticate as you gain the skill.
So let me leave you with one last thought about the humble exercise ball. When you go to a gym or do a search on the internet there will be websites that try to wow you with brand exercise balls, or try to sell you on the latest exercise ball chair which is more ergonomic, more natural blah blah blah.
As I mentioned above, a sphere is a sphere. The design is simple and cannot be improved upon. Companies will put grooves and patterns in an attempt to dazzle you but at the end of the day, exercise balls are simply fitness ball, it a body ball, a yoga ball, it is pure and simple a ball which you can use to help sophisticate any exercise routine.