Sitting on a stability ball can be a great way to prevent back pain. Unfortunately, done incorrectly or for too long and your good intentions could lead to some very poor results.
Have you heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”? There is mounting research now showing that prolonged sitting is not only bad for your back, but is linked to weight gain, poor cognitive function, diabetes, and cardio-vascular disease.
Commonly called “active sitting”, the concept behind using a stability ball (Swiss Ball) when sitting at your desk is really just a form of multi-tasking: exercise while working. The thought of actively engaging your core musculature while responding to that long list of e-mails seems like a great idea. And, it can be. You just have to follow a few rules when using this approach.
Chiropractic recommendations for using a stability ball.
Do not use the ball if you are currently experiencing any back pain, sciatica, or other health issues that could be exacerbated by using your core. Also, if you have balance issues, do not use the ball without the guidance of your doctor.
THE BALL IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR YOUR CHAIR. You will still need to have a good ergonomic chair for work.
Start out using the ball, in a cradle, for 5 to 10 minutes and then move back to your regular chair. Although many sources recommend using the ball up to 30 minutes at a time, I feel this is too long. Depending on your level of fitness, building up to 15 or 20 minutes of use is enough. As you become more comfortable with the ball, you can use it without the cradle.
Don’t just sit on it. The purpose of the ball is to ACTIVELY engage your muscles and spine. Always use good posture. Every so often, lightly bounce on the ball, slowly move your buttock back and forth or in a circular motion, and gently contract your abdominal muscles. Being careful not to fall off the ball, do these movements several times while seated.
Use the ball 2 or 3 times over the course of your day.
When sitting on the ball, you should be the same height as sitting in a properly fitted chair. If you need help setting up your computer workstation, please read my article: When the Computer is Causing Your Back Pain: 4 work space changes to save your spine.
If you experience pain during or after using the ball, stop using it and consult your chiropractor.
For more information on proper size and use, visit Swissball.com
Wishing you good health,