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Gym balls and instability

We seen them in advertisements and in magazines, large, colourful balls with happy people having fun on them. The health industry is selling gym balls to us on the back of new understanding and the popularity of Pilates.

But does it all make sense?. I think it does, and I’ll tell you why.

person sitting on gym ball

Get to know your gym ball

Your ball will generally come in a medium-sized neat box and of your are lucky, with a pump. Do not try to blow it up with your mouth. People have tried!

If you don’t get one automatically, it is worth investing in a good pump, mine is multicoloured and pumps air on pushing and pulling. Half the work!

Make sure your ball is a proper gymnastic ball intended for adult (!) use, as the best ones have an ‘anti-burst’ facility so if they get punctured they don’t let you down with a bump. At least they are less likely to.

Pump it up, you know you can do it.

Instructions on mine said to pump it up to 80% of its maximum size (in my case 65cm) and leave it for 2 hours. Have you tried to figure out what the measurements of a sphere are?? It’s not easy.

My tip is to put the ball under a table and measure from the top of the ball to the underneath of the table. It’s an easy calculation to subtract that from the floor to table measurement. When you pump it up to its proper size do not go over the measurement recommended as this might overstrain your ball. Leave it to mature for the recommended time then you’ve done it!

Time to play.

Care of your ball

The balls are quite robust but take care with sharp objects such as might occur on shoes, or pieces of grit on the carpet/floor which may be pushed into the ball by your weight as you perform your exercises. Taking a ball outside is probably unwise as it is not a toy and may not survive the surface or children/pets. Look after the ball and it should put up with all the weight you can put through it.

Now I’ve got one what do I do?

Very good question. If you have back problems you could usefully check out the core stability and core exercises pages. This will explain the typical problems encountered when you trunk stability is not all it could be.

If you sit on a ball your trunk stabilizing muscles have to come into action or you will fall off. This makes the ball a great thing for strengthening your core muscles at whatever stage you are at, very poor or very advanced.

If you sit on the ball, you will find that there is a point where your balance is challenged and you find it difficult to maintain your balance.

The easiest position is sitting with knees wide apart and feet flat on the ground.

It gets harder as the knees and feet are brought closer together, one heel is lifted from the ground, one foot is lifted from the ground, both feet are lifted off the ground and the arms are moved about. With practice you do get much more skilled and I can now lift both feet off and move about without falling, mostly.

A word of caution

It is easy to fall off the ball in an unexpected direction, and hard! You could hit your head against something hard or just hit the floor with a lot of force. We are large heavy creatures and this can lead to damage. Pusscats may be able to fall without injury but you and I cannot and need to take care! Use a ball at your own risk and make sure the area around the ball is free of hard or sharp-edged objects. Kids also may need supervision or you may have some comforting to do.


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