Learning more about exercise ball therapy

If you’ve been to the gym recently, you’ve most likely seen people using large, inflated balls as an exercise apparatus. Exercise ball therapy is growing in popularity for people who want a low-impact, stationary method of strengthening their core muscles. As you explore this exercise option, you may also hear exercise balls being referred to as “physio balls” or “Swiss balls.”

A main theory behind the use of an exercise ball is that because of the ball’s tendency to roll, people must engage more muscles to stabilize it, thereby increasing the intensity of the workout. For instance, if you sat on the ball to do bicep curls with free weights, your leg muscles and abdominal muscles would need to be constantly engaged to steady the ball.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of an exercise ball is its convenience. You can easily deflate it and store it at home in any bedroom, closet, recreation room or garage.

Can exercise ball therapy help your back pain?

Many people have found that exercise ball therapy helps them manage back pain due to conditions like sciatica, disc protrusion, spinal stenosis, arthritis of the spine and others. Elements of spine health that can be improved with an exercise ball include:

  • Posture — an erect, straight spine is necessary to remain balanced
  • Muscle strength — core muscles are engaged with sitting or lying on the ball
  • Stabilization — control of your spine and its muscles are necessary to keep the ball in position

Common exercises with an exercise ball include:

  • Squats — Stand with the ball sandwiched between you and the wall. The ball should be at the level of your lumbar (lower) spine. With your hands on your hips, bend your knees, always keeping your back against the ball.
  • Abdominal tucks — Assume a push-up position, but rest your knees on the ball. Slowly bring your knees to your chest and let the ball roll under your ankles.

Precautions to take when using an exercise ball

Remember, it is possible to fall off of the ball. If you’re new to exercise ball therapy, try starting with the ball against a wall for better stabilization. As with any regimen of physical activity, always consult your physician first. If your sense of balance is poor due to advanced age, medication or conditions like Parkinson’s or peripheral neuropathy, exercise ball therapy may not be for you.

If exercise ball therapy and other conservative treatments do little to treat your back pain, contact Laser Spine Institute for more information on how our minimally invasive spine surgery can help you find relief. Our minimally invasive outpatient procedures are often the clinically appropriate first choice and provide many advantages versus open neck or back surgery.