Health experts have always been in search of effective means of enhancing human health and fitness. After understanding the role muscles played in ascertaining human health and well being, physiotherapists started searching for ways to activate them. One such step taken towards gaining muscle enhancement and control was “Exercise Ball”. Yes, that ball which you might have ignored several times at your gym is actually a potent way of working on your muscles. This simple addition can make a huge difference to your routine. Today, we will look at the top 5 exercise balls in India that can make your workout fun and super effective.
What is an Exercise Ball?
Well, most of you have seen one at the gym but for those who haven’t and are wondering what good a ball would do, here is a brief introduction. Exercise balls are popularly called as Swiss Balls since they were first used in Switzerland. The balls were first put to use way back in 1963 to treat newborn and infants. Gradually the usage expanded to ortho and neuro-developmental problems. The medical society was taken aback to look at the benefits that could be ripped from a plastic ball and soon the Swiss Balls reached America and other parts of the world.
The point we are making here is that an exercise ball is not a farce created by random instructors and trainers. Even though their construction is relatively simpler, there is a whole science behind their development, usage and effectiveness.
What do exercise balls do?
If you have never used an exercise ball before then let us tell you what it does. It is basically used an exercise surface i.e. you do not work out on the flat surface of the floor. Rather you workout using the unstable surface of the ball as your base. Wondering why? Why would need a shaky, soft, round ball to work out on? Well to be honest, there is nothing wrong with the floor. Your body definitely benefits even when you exercise on flat hard surface.
However, when you replace the stable surface with an unstable one, your body becomes more alert with respect to its balance and posture. In order to maintain the right balance, your body activates more muscle groups.
Understand it this way: You do push-ups on the floor right? The floor gives you support to lift your body up and down. Now, imagine yourself doing push-ups with your body rested on a round soft ball. Won’t it be difficult to maintain that balance, correct posture, lift your body and bring it down? The usual task of push-ups became all of a sudden, a challenge for your body right?
This is what exercise balls do. They force your body to use more muscle groups. The major groups responsible for balance and posture are abdominal and back muscles. With the core musculature in the perfect shape, your stamina, load lifting capacity and muscle activity status improves amazingly.
What are the benefits or advantages of using exercise ball?
Exercise balls have been successfully used medically for numerous muscle and neuro-skeletal issues. Some of the most sought benefits are:
- Strong Core muscles: As we mentioned above, the need to maintain balance pushes the body to use more muscles from abdomen and back. These muscle groups, with repeated usage tones up and becomes strong thus offering you a strong core muscular frame.
- Improved Balance: While on a ball, everything that you do changes your centre of gravity thus changing your balance. Thus, your body is constantly struggling to maintain the balance. With continued usage, the muscles responsible for balance become very active. This improves your posture and balance when you do exhaustive and heavy workout.
- Improved Flexibility: Just like a foam roller, exercise balls too can be used effectively to stretch muscles. This improves muscle flexibility and even blood circulation in and around the muscle group. This improved flexibility and enhanced circulation, prevents injury during workouts.
In addition, exercise balls can also help in relieving back pain and toning the abdominal and leg muscles.
How to choose the right exercise ball?
As far as possible, seek expert opinion while going for an exercise ball because the selection needs to be made keeping in mind your height, weight and difference between your & normal height/weight ratio. Here is a quick guide that can help you in picking up an ideal exercise ball:
- Diameter: The most appropriate attribute for an exercise ball is its diameter. Commonly available balls offer a diameter of 35 cm to 85 cm. depending upon your height and body weight you should make a decision. The common rules to keep in mind are:
- Feet: When sitting on the ball, your feet should be flat on the ground.
- Knees: Your knees should be at 90 degrees or greater to the hips.
- Thighs: Your thighs should be perfectly parallel to the ground.
- Posture: Your hips, shoulders and ears should be in a straight line.
Keeping this in mind, here is the ideal pick based on height:
|45 cm||5′ and under|
|55 cm||5’1″– 5’8″|
|65 cm||5’9″– 6’2″|
|75 cm||6’3″– 6’7″|
|85 cm||6’8″ and above|
Note: 5′ should be read as 5 Feet while 5’1″ should be read as 5 feet and 1 inch.
- Weight: Your weight decided how much the ball would compress when you sit on it. This compression in return affects the usable diameter or height of the ball. If your current height/weight ratio is very high when compared to normal then choose a ball size higher than the recommended one.
For example: If the ideal diameter as per your height is 65 cm but your weight is high enough to cause a significant compression, and then choose 75 cm instead of 65. You can adjust the air pressure inside to suit your height.
Note: Do not bring down the air pressure significantly to adjust the height of the ball. The lesser the air pressure the lesser will be the benefit that you could get from using it.
- Safety: Exercise balls are made from plastic that are filled with air. If the plastic is not strong enough, it could cause the ball to explode. If this happens while you are exercising, you would fall straight on the floor. This can cause inflammation, injury and even fractures. To avoid this, the leading manufacturers are relying on Anti-Burst Technology. The idea is to allow the air to escape slowly in case of puncture. This avoids sudden bursting, thus, protecting you from any mishaps.
- Air Pump: Exercise balls are inflatable bags. The air pressure inside should be enough to keep the ball round even on usage. If the ball is deflated, the round surface would flatten thus, rendering the usage of an exercise ball meaningless. Hence, go for a ball that comes with a pump. This will also make storage and transport of the ball easier. You can deflate it when not in use and then inflate it again when required. You can also adjust the air pressure as per your need if you are handy with a pump.
- Price: Needless to say, this is a prime criterion while choosing any product. Exercise balls are one time investments however; it is not advisable to go for unnecessarily expensive ones. A number of great products are available at decent rates.
Things to keep in mind while using an exercising ball
When it comes to health and fitness, your method of usage plays a very important role. If your technique is not right, you might harm yourself. Keep these things in mind while using an exercise ball:
- You would need to use your feet a lot to maintain balance. Hence make sure when you exercise, you are wearing shoes that give you good grip.
- When you exercise you are bound to sweat which can cause your upper body to slip off the ball. Hence, make sure you are not working without a shirt or top. Cover as much skin as possible so that your sweat does not come in contact with the ball.
- You can cause a significant damage to your spine if you do not maintain the right posture when sitting on the ball. Adjust your position in such a way that the above mentioned posture criteria are met.
Keeping all this in mind, we have pulled the list of Top 5 Exercise Balls in India. Choose the one that best suits your needs and roll your way to fitness.