Short Cut for a Stronger Core?

Any of us who have or have had lower back pain will do a lot of things to prevent it or fix it.

These big inflatable balls are supposed to do just that – help you “strengthen your core” and “improve posture”.

As this video explains:

Seems like it might work. Makes you sit up, works your core muscles.

The surface is soft so that’s a good thing, right? Has to be better than hard, flat restaurant chairs.

In one study, the researchers found that sitting on a exercise ball (also known as a physio ball or swiss ball) increases discomfort and reduced “good”  posture.1)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16696264

Another study found that the thickness of your intervertebral discs shrinks from sitting on a exercise ball.2)Kingma, I., & van Dieen, J. H. (2009). Static and dynamic postural loadings during computer work in females: Sitting on an office chair versus sitting on an exercise ball. Appl Ergon, 40(2), 199-205. doi:10.1016/j.apergo.2008.04.004. That’s not what you want to happen.

When the disc shrinks, the spinal segment (two vertebral bodies with a disc in between) becomes less stable. Less stability means more micro-movement (the segment shifts forward and back a tiny amount) and that leads to back pain.

Everyone wants a quick solution or at least not to waste any time. There’s the attraction to the exercise ball as an office chair. I have to sit anyway so why not get two things done at once?

But quick solutions go against how the body works.

The body is on an agricultural tempo not digital. It moves slowly. Gets worse slowly (unless you’re injured somehow) and gets better slowly.

We live in a digital society. We want things now. No waiting. If I have to wait, I move on.

Until you bump into a body issue. Then, patience and diligence help you get well.

Using an exercise ball as a chair is not a great idea. Using it as an exercise tool is a better idea.

  • Push ups with feet on the ball
  • Stir the Pot (you can find this on my exercise routines page).
  • A plank with forearms on the ball
  • Bridging with the upper back on the ball

Plenty of good reasons to use an exercise ball but maybe not as an office chair.

That’s all I have for now.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

PS – If you’re interested in what I do for exercise and training, go here. For my books, go here

References   [ + ]

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16696264
2. Kingma, I., & van Dieen, J. H. (2009). Static and dynamic postural loadings during computer work in females: Sitting on an office chair versus sitting on an exercise ball. Appl Ergon, 40(2), 199-205. doi:10.1016/j.apergo.2008.04.004