|If you are struggling with a weak back, consider working out with a
body ball. By performing exercises on these specially designed balls,
you are uniquely able to strengthen the muscles of your lower back and
pelvis, since the balls encourage a wider range of motion and greater
muscle recruitment. You must balance on the ball, and, because you must
stabilize your body on the ball, your muscles (especially those of your
trunk) work harder.
In addition to strengthening muscles, exercising with a ball can
increase flexibility and improve posture. Here are some tips on using
body balls correctly:
- Only use balls specifically produced for doing the exercises. A
physical therapist can refer you to where the balls can be purchased
or you can check with your local health club.
- Ball size is important -- your legs should bend at a 90-degree
angle when you are sitting on the ball.
- Use the ball on a carpet or exercise mat, free of sharp objects
that could puncture the ball.
- Perform the exercises in a slow and controlled manner, making sure
you are properly balanced.
- Perform the exercise two to three times per week on
- Always do the movement when your muscles are warm, such as after a
- As with all exercises, this movement may not be appropriate for
people with certain physical limitations. If you are unsure, check
with your physician first. Do not use the ball if you are
experiencing back pain.
There is a wide range of ball exercises you can do for a total body
workout. Here are a few that target the trunk muscles:
- With your feet on the ground, lean into the ball on your back.
- Start with your hips low, then raise them up and back down for 10
to 15 repetitions.
- With your feet on the ground, lean on the ball so that your lower
back is supported by the ball's curve.
- Keep your head in line with your trunk -- don't pull it forward
during the movement.
- Cross your hands over your chest and lift your upper body until
you feel the tension in your abdominal muscles.
- Lower to start position and do 10 to 15 repetitions.
Opposite Arm/Leg Lifts
- Lie face down with your abdomen over the curve of the ball.
- Start with both hands and feet on the floor for support.
- Extend your right arm in front of you as you extend your left leg
- Lower again to floor.
- Alternate, raising your left arm and right leg. Do 10 to 15
Note: Always keep your lower back flat. Do not lift your arms and
legs so high that your back arches. Keep your head and neck in line with
the rest of your body. Do not lift your head.