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Exercise Ball therapy for Back Pain

Exercise ball therapy requires the use of a large, usually inflatable ball and certain pacific exercises. It is often recommended in the treatment of back pain particularly that in the lower area.

Exercise ball therapy can be done by anyone no matter what level of fitness they are at and it is an excellent method of preventing any back injury occurring in the first place.

What is an Exercise Ball?

Initially exercise balls were designed for the treatment of orthopaedic problems, especially lower back pain. Exercise balls are now commonly found in mainstream gymnasiums as their preventative qualities are now recognised internationally. The ball is usually inflatable and made of PVC, so it will have a non-slip surface and can be cleaned without difficulty. Companies will often provide a suitable pump, to be used for re-inflating the ball.

This type of exercise is particularly useful as the exercises can be done in the privacy of the users’ home, they can also be taken with you when going away or to the gym with ease.

What Does an Exercise Ball Do?

Exercise balls are used to help in the development of flexibility, co-ordination, balance and increase muscle tone and strength. Once the original back pain is under control, the exercise ball therapy can be used to help stop recurrences.

This type of therapy can improve the balance as the use of this therapy introduces an element of instability that the human body will naturally become accustomed to. Over time, the muscles used when adapting to the exercises will become strengthened, this will provide support to the lower back and pelvis.

An observable fact called ‘proprioception’ is used when exercising with these balls, meaning that the body’s ability to sense movements is in-tune. We become attentive of our joint and limb placements because of the nerve sensors located around the muscles, joints and ligaments. Development of proprioception improves balance and co-ordination and helps to steady the spinal column.

Stabilisation of the spinal column can boost the ability to preserve a correct posture and teaches correct lifting techniques.

This type of therapy is also good to help with pain relief as the small irregular spinal movements encourage the production of the body’s natural pain inhibitors.

The use of this equipment is great for toning the abdominal muscles, which also helps provide strength to the lower back and pelvis.

Using an Exercise Ball

As most of the exercise balls are inflatable, thought must be given to the correct clothing. Clothing should be comfortable and non-restrictive, with no sharp characteristics (such as belts or jewellery) in order to prevent a puncture. If it is possible try to purchase an accompanying information booklet or DVD with the ball, which gives full instructions of how to use it correctly and how to carry out the exercises. If necessary, you can ask for advice from a qualified physiotherapist who is familiar with this therapy, even an appropriate programme of exercise based on the users needs can be made.

Building up exercises gradually is important and exercise frequently to gain the most benefit from this type of therapy. Also increase the level complexity in the exercises as competence and confidence grows.
The ideal size of ball is worked out by the diameter being equal to that of the space between shoulder and finger-tip of the user.

Where Can an Exercise Ball Be Purchased?

There are many internet companies selling exercise balls for a reasonable price (usually less than £60), which also has the benefit of being delivered right to your door. The purchaser cannot test the ball’s ability to preserve its shape under the users’ weight when buying online, this can be a disadvantage.

Some high-street shops sell the equipment as do a choice of gymnasiums and specialist sports stores.
Exercise balls can be used for the deterrence of a back problem taking place by strengthening the muscles around the spine, or as a measure for preventing a recurrence of an already existing back complaint

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