Sunday, September 20, 2009

Get The Ball Rolling On Your Next Workout

Bored with exercise? Stability balls can add a twist to your next stretching or strength-training session. Also known as Swiss balls, inflatable stability balls challenge your muscles by providing an uneven base. They also use your core during strength training. So, they're ideal for exercisers who have low back pain.

Swiss balls come in various sizes. To choose the right one for you, sit on the ball with your feet on the floor and your knees bent. Your knees and hips should form 90-degree angles.

Start with these exercises:
  • Ball stretch. Lie down over the ball to stretch muscles on the opposite side. For example, lying on your stomach extends your back, while lying on your back stretches abs.
  • Swiss-ball superhero. Lie on your stomach over the ball. Slowly raise one arm, then the other, over your head. Then slowly raise each leg 2 - 4 inches off the floor. As you get stronger, try raising the opposite leg and arm at the same time.
  • Back stabilization. Lie on your stomach over the ball. "Walk" your hands forward until the ball is under your legs and then "walk" your hands backward to your original position. Next, "walk" your hands forward until the ball is under your legs again and then slowly raise each arm over your head, alternating between your right and left arm. When you're stronger, try to perform push-ups. "Roll" back to the starting position.