Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 5, 2017
Exercise balls aren’t as popular as they used to be, but they can still be beneficial for your aching back. Aside from helping contour your spine to the correct position, an exercise ball can also help you strengthen keys muscles in your core which support your back. Today, we take a closer look at why an exercise ball is beneficial for back pain, and how to use one so you don’t cause damage.
Exercise Balls and Your Back
Exercise balls are similar to standing desks in that they try to help naturally move our spine to a correct posture position, but they also have drawbacks if used incorrectly or too frequently. But before we explain how to avoid problems with an exercise ball, let’s take a look at how exercise balls benefit your spine.
- 90-Degree Posture – An exercise ball isn’t going to let you be off balance, which means the most stable position is seated directly on top of the ball with your legs out in front of you. If you’re seated correctly, your spine with be straight upwards and your legs will be straight forwards, which means your body is in a makeshift right angle. Because of this, exercise balls are good at getting you into a healthy 90-degree body position, which puts your spine in alignment with your hips and your neck positioned above your spine. This ensures you’re not putting excess stress on one area of your back.
- Core Muscle Strength – Instability is rarely a good thing, but it is when it comes to exercise balls. Because the ball is unstable, you’ll have to work some of your core muscles to maintain your balance and stay upright. Strengthening your core muscles can do wonders for your spine, and the nice thing about using an exercise ball at your desk is that if you’re focused on your work, you may not even realize you’re strengthening those muscle groups!
Avoiding Exercise Ball Pitfalls
However, just because an exercise ball can help with your spine doesn’t mean you should overdo it. Like standing desks, standing for eight hours at work causes problems just like sitting at your desk for eight hours does, and the same holds true for exercise balls. They can be great in moderation, but if you overdo it, problems can occur.
For example, even if you wanted to sit on the exercise ball for eight hours, you’d find it extremely difficult to maintain 90-degree posture throughout the day. You’d inherently start slouching or leaning, and that will put abnormal stress on your spine. If you find yourself leaning, head back to a cushioned and supportive chair.
Same goes for working your core muscles. Some strengthening is great, but if you push yourself too far or for too long, you might injure a muscle group or a nearby structure. If you’re going to use an exercise ball at your workstation or at home, strive for 30-45 minute sessions, then switch to standing or a supportive chair option. Overdoing it may be worse that simply sitting in a chair, so be smart when using an exercise ball to control spine pain, and reach out to Dr. Sinicropi if you have any questions!