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Strengthen Your Core With Stability Ball Exercises

April 14, 2011

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woman exercising her core on a stability ball

woman using a stability ball for abdominal exercises

Exercise balls have been around for a long time. You may have seen them at the gym, or you may even have one at your house. Fitness balls have been used by physical therapists and personal trainers alike. The reason this exercise equipment is used so frequently and by so many is because it’s relatively inexpensive and easily accessible, but also because it has such great benefits for the body. Exercise balls focus on strengthening the torso/core to improve complete body function and reduce the risk of injury. Because it is an unstable environment it challenges your muscles, by contracting, to keep yourself from falling off. Additionally, it keeps your spine in proper alignment while balancing upon the ball. Many of today’s spinal injuries are due to repetitive stress, prolonged sitting or standing or muscle weakness. By using a stability ball you strengthen the muscles and improve balance, while keeping your body in constant motion due to the instability, which increases circulation of blood, oxygen and nutrients. Constant motion also burns calories and boosts energy. Fitness ball workouts target specific muscle groups such as abdominals, back, pelvis and legs. You can add weights, other body parts or additional movements to increase the intensity as well. Using an exercise ball can be as simple as replacing your office or desk chair with a stability ball or sitting on one while watching TV at night. Here are some stability ball exercises that can strengthen your muscles, improve your balance and keep you healthy.


Squat & Reach-
Hold the ball out in front of your with your arms parallel to the floor. Bend your knees into a squat and keep your back straight. Don’t over extend your knees beyond your feet. Tighten your abs and breathe deeply. While keeping your lower body still, rotate your trunk and arms to the left. Hold for 3 deep breathes. Then return to center and rotate to the right. Repeat this exercise 5 times and build up to 15.


Abdominal Crunch-
Sit on the ball with your feet resting flat and knees parallel to the floor. Keep your back straight and your abs engaged while you lean back as far as you can while keeping your abs tightened. Hold for 3 deep breathes and return to starting position. Do 5 times and build up to 15.


Roll Up-
Lay on the floor with your knees bent, legs together and feet flat on the floor. Hold the stability ball between your hands above your chest. Contract your abs and curl your chin to your chest while rolling up until your shoulders are off of the floor. Reach your arms with the ball out over your bent knees. Hold for 3 deep breaths and slowly roll back to the floor. Repeat 5 times and build up to 15.


Back Extension-
Lay on the fitness ball on your stomach with the ball positioned under your hips. Legs should be extended out behind your body. Place your hands behind your head. Slowly roll your body down the front of the fitness ball.  Then lift your chest off the ball, until your shoulders are in line with your back. Do not over extend your back as this could cause injury. Repeat 5 times and build up to 15.


Butt Lift-
Sit on the fitness ball, lay back and roll your body out so the ball is now under your head neck and shoulders. Keep your upper and lower body in line by contracting your abdominals. Your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the floor. Lower your hips towards the floor with your back rounded against the ball. Squeeze your glutes to raise your hips until body is in a straight line. Do 5 repetitions and build up to 15.


Lie on the floor with your feet and heels propped up on the stability ball. Tighten your abs and slowly lift your hips off the floor until your entire body is in a straight line. Hold for 3 deep breath. Repeat 5 times and build up to 15.


Leg Extension-
Lay on the ball with it under the upper back. Knees should be bent with the legs parallel to the floor. Lift your arms straight above your body. Lower your arms behind your head while raising your right leg in a straight line. Return to starting position and repeat by alternating legs. Do 5 repetitions on each leg and build up to 15.