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Using the Swiss Ball for Improved Posture and Increased Strength

By Dan Farrell

For individuals looking for better posture and increased flexibility and strength, nothing could be easier than training with a Swiss ball.

WHAT IS A SWISS BALL?

The Swiss ball, also called the Stability ball, Exercise ball, Flexibility ball or other names, is a large, inflated, rubber ball. The Swiss ball was originally created in Italy in the 1960's and provides instability or resistance which requires the user to rely on 'core' muscles to retain balance - thus improving strength and flexibility of those muscles.

A Swiss doctor studied its use in a clinical setting by incorporating the ball in rehabilitation therapy. While it is still used in physiotherapy it has also become known in the general fitness world as an adaptable and enjoyable addition to routines building strength, flexibility and proper posture.

WHO CAN USE THE SWISS BALL?

Because the Swiss ball is so easy to use and enjoyable, it is able to be used by almost everyone, young or old. However, because the Swiss ball is designed to create instability (thus forcing the body's own muscles to be employed) there is a need for caution. The elderly, injured, pregnant women or anyone otherwise subject to a lack of stability or increased risk of falling, should not use the Swiss ball without personal instruction and care.

When choosing a Swiss ball it is important to choose the size appropriate to your height as well as the intended use. Determine what technique you plan to use the Swiss ball for before purchasing your own ball.

HOW DO YOU USE A SWISS BALL?

If you are concerned about lower back pain or posture you can use the Swiss ball as an alternative to a regular chair. Sedentary workers find that certain muscles in the back become weak over time and are easily strained. Sitting on the Swiss ball will improve your 'core strength' by forcing the unused muscles to maintain balance.

There are many videos and books as well as group classes that teach routines targeting different muscle groups. The Swiss ball has been used in therapy as well as for professional athletes so you are sure to find a method suitable for your experience and needs.

While it is possible to use the Swiss ball on your own at home or the office (and is recommended as an easy way to fit in your workout) it is helpful to have professional instruction when learning to use the ball correctly. Having someone guide you into proper position will show you what the proper alignment feels like.

Performing warm up exercises is also recommended before beginning a Swiss ball routine. Using the Swiss ball properly will increase the benefits you receive with regular use. No matter what your fitness level, try it out and see how much fun the Swiss ball can be!

Copyright 2005 MHG Consulting


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