You may think it's all fun and games sitting on a stability ball while you work, but you should implement these important guidelines to help protect yourself from accidental injury. While the stability ball has its advantages, you should avoid using one if you have an acute back injury, especially if your quadratus lumborum, the major back muscle that runs from your 12th rib to the top of your pelvis, is compromised. The ball offers no back support, forcing you to heavily depend on the QL for support. If you notice any sharp or discomforting pain, forgo the ball for an ergonomic chair.
Five Rules For Proper Stability Ball Usage:
- Right size: Buy a ball that is intended for your height. Inflate the ball enough so that when you sit down, your legs create a 90 degree angle, at both the hip and knee, and your entire forearm can rest easily on your desk when typing.
- Wide stance: Place your feet flat on the floor about six inches from the ball. Open your legs to about the ball's width (wider than hip distance). You'll notice that if you place your feet closer together, your hip flexors will tighten up, and that lower back pain will creep up.
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- Neutral spine: When sitting, avoid tilting your pelvis. Maintain the natural curves of your back to keep a neutral spine, which forces you to engage your back and core muscles — and this is a good thing.
- Shoulders down and neck back: Check your neck and shoulders. Press the shoulders down and back, and refrain from hunching your neck forward — your monitor's not going anywhere. Your head, torso, and hips should be in alignment, stacked one on top of the other.
- Bounce around: The fun of the stability ball is having the freedom to bounce around, move, and stretch the muscles in your back. Now that you know the proper alignment, go channel your childlike enthusiasm for a good bounce.