Stability Ball Review
- A must for beginners
- Great for increasing core strength
- Exercises for all levels
If I had to choose one piece of exercise equipment to use to train my clients it would definitely be a stability ball. In fact I use a stability ball as the main supplement to my own training programme as they are fantastic for training your core. The core muscles are the most important area of your body to train (the muscles within your trunk). Owing to the relatively sedentary lifestyle that many of us have adopted over the years our core muscles are being neglected; their ability to stabilise our movement have waned and our postures leave a lot to be desired! One of the results of neglecting our core muscles is the increasing occurrence of back pain.
So how does a stability ball address this problem? Exercising with a stability ball challenges the body to function on an unstable surface, improving the strength of our core muscles. Core strength is important because it provides us with a base of support that holds us upright and facilitates correct movement patterns that we rely on in our day to day lives.
Stability balls are very versatile. Once your postural awareness has increases and your core muscles are increase in strength you can introduce exercises that work and tone the rest of your body. The key is to continue to focus on your posture at all times.
The only criticism that I have of stability balls is that they take up a lot of storage space. One way around this is to use one as an additional chair in your house! Watch EastEnders whilst exercising your core muscles – no slouching (as I typed the last sentenced I straightened up in my chair – we all do it!) Top tip: complete exercises in front of a mirror as it is easy to start leaning forwards or backwards without realising that you are doing it.
Below are some excellent stability ball exercises:
Stability Ball Core Activation
Sit tall on a stability ball with your feet on the floor, hip width apart. Gently rock your hips backwards and forwards so that the curve in your lower back is increased then reduced. Slowly reduce the movement until your hips find a central position; this position is called neutral spine. Draw in your tummy muscles as much as you can then release your tummy by 50% and then by a further 50%. You stomach should now be drawn in using 25% effort. Your core is now activated and holding your hips in a neutral position. Continue to breathe throughout the exercise. Maintain this position for 30 secs. Repeat.
Stability Ball Single Leg Raise
Complete the above core activation technique to get yourself into a start position. Lift one foot off the floor keeping your hips level and your spine in neutral; hold for 30 seconds. Repeat exercise with the other leg.
Stability Ball Squats
Stand with your stability ball wedged between your back and a wall. The ball should be against the curve of your lower back. Place your feet shoulder distance apart and take a pace forward so that your feet are further away from the wall than your body is. Draw your tummy muscles in (keep breathing!). With your hands on your hips slowly bend your knees, lowering your hips directly beneath you until they are just above knee height. Return to the start position. Complete 2 x 15 repetitions.
Stability Ball Crunches
Sit on the stability ball. Slowly walk your feet away from the ball and lean back until your lower back is supported by the ball. Rest your hands in your head. Using your tummy muscles, perform a crunch movement and draw your ribs towards your hips. Return to start position. Complete 2 x 15 repetitions.
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