January 10, 2017

Why Swiss Ball Training Should be Part of your Exercise Programme

The Stability Ball or “Swiss balls”,”Physio Balls”, “Balance Balls has a prominent role in the world of Fitness industry.

Gym balls are all about instability. Using one in the gym for an exercise makes all your stabilizer muscles – those unsung heroes that play second fiddle to the pectorals, biceps, and triceps – work to keep your balance. Using them regularly for bodyweight moves builds functional all-over strength that will reduce the risk of sporting injury, improve your posture and help support the heavier compound lifts like squats and overhead presses, so your vital gym statistics keep climbing.

Due to the Stability Ball’s success and growing popularity, the last decade has seen the birth of various programs developed to educate professionals on their use and multiple applications.

The benefit of this type of application has reported as; improved focus, concentration, handwriting skills, a better understanding of class material, and better organizational skills. There are several pilot studies in the US using the Stability Ball in schools and the preliminary data is consistent with that found in Europe.

The Stability Ball is likely one of the most versatile pieces of equipment. It’s fun, it’s easy to use and everybody from pediatrics to geriatrics literally finds the stability ball to be something unique, effective, inexpensive and productive. Another unique feature about the stability ball is that it employs the neuromuscular system in a way that no other piece of exercise equipment can. They incorporate the use of:

Multiple muscle systems

  • Neurologically induced muscular responses
  • Normal and natural process of balance
  • The body’s own natural processes
  • Establishing, restoring and maintaining balance

Trainers with athletic backgrounds quickly realized that the Stability Ball could be applied more aggressively to actually enhance the performance of athletes. Now, the stability ball can be found in just about every professional strength facility

Due to the Stability Ball’s popularity within the rehabilitation and fitness industry, they have also made their way into the private sector. While the initial home use was directed toward rehabilitation, the stability ball is now used by many as a chair for their office, for regular strength training, flexibility training and for relaxation.

Ball Selection: Selecting a stability exercise ball is simple. A properly sized exercise ball will allow you to sit on it with your knees and hip at 90 degrees. Using different size balls will allow you more flexibility and variation with your stability ball training.

Body Alignment
Unless otherwise indicated, a neutral alignment of the spine should be maintained when exercising. This means:

Head (ball under hips) – The cervical spine, or neck, should not be hyper-flexed. Try to maintain it in the position used when you are standing – in a neutral position. Likewise, do not hyper-extend the neck when exercising.

Core (ball under hips, knees and feet progression) – When performing exercises where the body is suspended in the prone (face-down) position between two distal support-points, make sure your core is strong enough to maintain a posterior (backward) pelvic tilt. This protects the lumbar spine from hyperextension but does require exceptional abdominal and hip flexor strength. Notice the straight body alignment from head to toe.

Benefits of Stability Ball Training

Maintaining proper alignment on the ball stimulates the body’s natural motor reflexes and encourages the body to react as a whole, integrated unit. This type of movement corresponds to how you move about in a normal day. Training on the ball challenges the whole body to participate in order to maintain correct posture and balance and to perform dynamic exercise movement.

When using the ball correctly, the body is required to utilize various muscles for stabilization. These muscles may not have been previously challenged using traditional exercise equipment. Because the ball is versatile and dynamic the training outcome will deliver maximal results.

The ball can improve muscle strength and endurance in all of the major muscle groups. Training with the ball can improve muscle tone, increase muscle endurance and strength, restore or improve flexibility, enhance spinal stability, complement your resistance and aerobic training programs, help you lose weight, and improve your balance, posture, and coordination.

The ball is ideal for stretching and offers additional options to traditional static stretching. Traditional stretching usually requires you to stretch the floor and can be difficult to achieve and maintain many of the stretching positions.

Improve Your Flexibility
The correct use of an exercise ball during your fitness routine may help improve your flexibility. You can use an exercise ball to warm up and stretch your muscles before you begin a workout. This may possibly prevent injury, and also help to keep your muscles and joints functional.

Improve Your Balance
Even when you are just sitting on the ball, it engages the stabilizer muscles. You need to use your abdominal and back muscles to keep your balance on the ball. Training with an exercise ball in the right manner may be beneficial for healthy posture. It is important to maintain proper alignment when using an exercise ball to prevent injury.

Adding an exercise ball to your fitness routine helps to add some variety to your daily workout. Some fitness experts believe that people with strong cores may have a decreased risk for future injury in that muscle area.

In summary, using an exercise ball during your fitness routine may improve core alignment and muscle strength, flexibility and coordination. Strong core muscles also help maintain good posture.

Core-strength exercises strengthen abs and other core muscles strengthening the core muscles.

The three muscle groups that make up your core are:

  1. Quadratus lumbar – The muscles found in the lower back that helps to maintain pelvically and spinal balance.
  2. Transverse abdominous – The deep abdominal muscles.
  3. Multifidus  – The main back muscles that support the lumbar spine.

These muscles work in unison to help protect the spine and aid everyday activities such as throwing, running, bending and reaching, all of which require the core/stabilizer muscles, so it’s important to keep them well-conditioned. If these muscles aren’t trained well it can make such simple movements as walking and pull more difficult.

Training with a gym ball is an efficient way of engaging these difficult to reach muscles. The rule of thumb is the further away the ball is from the core of your body, the most difficult maintaining your balance is. For example, when doing a press-up on the ball, placing the ball underneath your lower legs makes doing the push-up a lot easier because the ball is closer to your core. If you want to increase the difficulty, all you have to do is roll the ball out to your feet so it’s further away from the center of your body, and so maintaining your balance is more difficult.

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