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Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Love My Stability Ball!

It sometimes feels strange to say you love an object but the plain simple truth is I love my stability ball. I first purchased an exercise ball I because my physical therapist recommended it for stretching my back. I was having back pain and hip pain and I could not find the source of what was causing it. I don’t lift heavy things and although I work out I don’t do strenuous exercise so I just could not figure it out. Physical therapy helped but I could not keep that up forever. The point of therapy is to help improve your function or pain. Then therapists are supposed to teach you how to get results at home. 


Having a therapy ball to use every day made a huge difference for me. At first I just used it to stretch my back and work my core with basic abdominal exercises. With a few minor adjustments I had a lot of exercises to do so I could vary my workout so I did not get bored. Using a therapy ball helped my back a lot. Just having it to stretch out would have been enough but the added benefit of core strength and postural stability was a bonus I really didn’t expect. 



Despite all these benefits to my body a few weeks into my new routine I realized that my hips still hurt every day after work. I talked to my physical therapist and after a few discussions we realized that my pain came after long periods of time at my desk. She recommended I use the ball at work which I never thought of before. I thought she meant stretching at the office which would not work for me at all but she was actually recommending using it instead of my chair. At first it just sounded too radical. I had a mental picture of my exercise ball rolling around the office or me falling off and my legs flying up in the air. In the end desperation prevailed and I decided to give it a try.


Before committing to potentially looking weird work I did some research to see if there was any information online about using a ball as a task chair. Apparently using a therapy ball as a chair is not that uncommon. Occupational therapists even have a term for it. They call it dynamic seating. By sitting on something in motion it keeps your core engaged, provides a cushion for your bones and joints, and promotes improved posture. The bottom line is it might be a solution to ease my discomfort and that is what I was looking for.
Although it seemed that was a good idea it did not change my fears about the ball rolling away while I was on it. Here my research came in handy. I had found that there are balls with feet to keep them steady or inflatable ball rings to keep balls in one spot. Although the balls would not roll away these abll supports still allowed enough movement to promote dynamic sitting. There are even ball chairs that have a sturdy frame on caster wheels so it looks more like a task chair.  I even found that there were seating discs I could use on my regular chair that simulate the feeling of being on a ball.

Since I already had a ball I chose to try the ring first to see how it worked. It did not take long. I noticed the difference the first day. My hips were not as tight and back hurt less. It is not a miracle but it is a definite improvement which is really what I was looking for. To avoid having to take my ball home every day for my stretching routine I purchased a separate ball for work. 


Before this process I had no idea that the exercise balls I use in my Yoga and Pilates classes could be used as a chair. Purchasing a stability ball was supposed to be a simple way to stretch my back when I was alone at home. Instead it turned out to be a life changing solution to a major issue. I used to hate sitting at my desk because I had to get up to stretch too often. I am so much more productive now which makes me feel better about myself and that makes me a happier person too. I really do love my therapy stability ball.

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