WHY IS THE EXERCISE BALL USEFUL FOR SEATING?
Mechanical low back pain (MLBP) has been described as the 'flu' of the musculoskeletal system. It is widespread and is responsible for more time-off-work than any other condition. MLBP is often difficult to diagnose and has a 60-80% recurrence rate. Additionally, approximately one tenth of cases of acute MLBP do not resolve and are at risk of becoming chronic pain conditions. Pain is the most dominant feature of this condition, but it may include inadequate muscle control or stabilization and poor posture.
The following are areas where the fitness ball may be useful in managing or preventing MLBP:
Moving on an exercise ball in a pain-free range of motion called ROM, stimulates mechanoreceptors and thereby causes a natural mechanism of pain inhibition. Due to the inherent instability of the ball, sitting on it requires continual postural correction during functional tasks. This postural correction, being mid-ROM and of a small amplitude is likely to be pain inhibitory. Also, some patients are reluctant to move their low back following a painful episode. Sitting on the ball is a gentle encouragement to move in a controlled manner.
Muscle control & stabilization
There is recent evidence that shows low back stabilization training can positively affect recovery from MLBP. Use of the ball encourages active seating postures and thereby offers a big opportunity to reinforce active stabilization. The ball can also be used as part of a spinal stabilization exercise program.
A basic constraint on retraining posture is the difficulty of avoiding unhelpful habitual postures. We all tend towards certain postures when our attention is distracted by daily tasks. The exercise ball encourages a lordotic lumbar spine position, both as a means of centering one's center of mass over the fitness ball and also as a means of providing a stable pelvic base on which to balance one's upper body. An undesirable slump position is discouraged by sitting on the fitness ball, as this posture increases the ball's instability. The famous Alexander Technique suggests that a lordotic lumbar spine position in sitting may determine if you have good posture in other regions of the spine as well. The continual gentle postural correction required while sitting on the exercise ball reduces the static loading on any one structure & helps you maintain good posture.
Balls 'N' Bands Ball Chairs (Click on them for full description.)
Using Your Exercise Ball as a Chair
The main problem with sitting in a NORMAL chair, is that it does not encourage movement. We may be able to sit "properly" for 10-12 minutes, but after that our muscles become tired and we fall into bad posture, most often using a back rest. We get involved in what we are doing on our computer, and forget about our bodies. Our muscles switch off! In time, our muscles become weaker and less able to support us. This is true particularly of the small, deep trunk muscles which are of great importance in supporting our spine.
Even though we may go and "workout" in the gym regularly, we are only exercising the major muscles. With the smaller deeper muscles being weaker, we are creating an imbalance. How often do you hear of someone "doing their back in" when they are performing some relatively minor task?
One probable reason is that their deeper trunk muscles are not in good working order and are not able to support the spine. These muscles work on reflex and because the reflex is not stimulated when sitting on a normal chair, the reflex action becomes a bit "rusty".it
Something else to consider is the spine itself. When we sit, our spine should stay in roughly the same alignment as when we stand. When we fall into bad posture, this alignment is severely distorted. When we stay in this distorted position for hours at a time, we are placing unusual pressures on the discs in between each vertebrae and on the ligaments and muscles supporting the spine.
What about the well designed, ergonomic chair? Well, at least in some of these types of chairs, when you have it adjusted properly, your spine is held in correct alignment. The problem is that there is still very little movement permitted, and certainly no encouragement to move. The end result is that our body becomes weaker, less able to support itself, and less able to cope with the pressures that we put on it when we are not sitting.
The exercise ball provides very comfortable seating for backs that develop pain while working at a desk. If there is a history of spinal pathology you should get advice from your therapist.
Ever think of using a ball chair?
Inflatable exercise balls can replace desk chairs! Ball Chairs have been popular in Europe for several years. Even kids love Ball Chairs. Check out our children's ball chairs. They are already used in more than 300 companies around our country as well. Workers say that exercise balls make it tougher to slouch. They encourage a slight bouncing movement that keeps leg muscles busy and eases stress.
Anyone at your office complaining about back pain?
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