A stability ball, also known as a physioball or Swiss ball, can spice up your workout and add an extra challenge. Because the ball is unstable, exercising on it really forces you to use your stabilizer muscles. Your core gets a challenging workout, and your strength, balance, posture and flexibility improve. Knowing how to properly use a stability ball is essential to get optimal results and to reduce your risk of injuries. The following tips might come in handy.
1. Use the stability ball in an area that’s free of sharp objects that might damage the ball. Look for clean, smooth flooring. Ideally, use the ball on an exercise mat. Also, ensure your don’t wear a watch, belt or other sharp object that might puncture the ball.
2. Warm-up before exercising on the ball. Use the ball in the middle or at the end of your regular workout session when your body is already warm, or perform five to 10 minutes of low-intense cardio to get your blood flowing beforehand.
3. If your new to stability ball exercises, separate your feet about shoulder-width apart when sitting on the ball. The wider your feet the easier it will be to stay balanced. As you get used to exercising on the ball, gradually bring your feet closer together.
4. Check that the stability ball is inflated properly at all times. After using the ball for a while, you might have to add some air.
5. Use the ball in front of a wall so you can’t roll forward or slide off it. You can also place a sturdy chair next to the ball to help you stay balanced.
6. Start with basic exercises, such as seated knee raises or crunches, before taking on more challenging moves, such as knee tucks and planks.
7. Clean the ball regularly with soapy water to eliminate bacteria.
8. Always wear a shirt when exercising on the ball, because if you sweat heavily and don’t wear a top, you might slip off the ball.
9. If you’re using external weights, such as dumbbells, medicine balls or barbells, always use less weight than you would use when doing the exercises on a stable surface. Keep in mind that the unstable surface of the ball also makes the exercise more challenging.
10. Consult a doctor if you have an injury or health condition before doing exercises on a stability ball. You want to make sure that the exercises won’t worsen your condition.
American College of Sports Medicine