Stability-Ball Exercises to Build Strength and Flexibility



Lower-Back and Hip Exercises

Opposite arm and leg lift: Begin on your hands and knees with the stability ball underneath your trunk, providing support. Inhale as you slowly lift your right arm and left leg simultaneously until your right arm, torso and left leg form a straight line in the same plane. Pause and then exhale as you slowly return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise with the opposite arm and leg and continue in alternating fashion. Keep the eyes focused on the floor throughout the movement to avoid overarching the neck and lower back.

Back extension: Lie face down with the stability ball under your hips, legs straight except for a slight bend in the knees, and the balls of both feet on the floor. Drape your upper body over the stability ball and cross your arms over your chest. Inhale as you contract your lower-back muscles, causing your upper body to rise until your head, spine and lower back form a straight line. Avoid overarching the neck or lower back. Pause, then exhale as you lower your upper body in a controlled manner to the starting position and repeat.

Bridging: Lie on the floor on your back, arms extended out at a 45-degree angle along the floor with the palms down for support. With your heels on top of the stability ball, lift your buttocks off the floor until your torso forms a straight line with your legs. Pause briefly, return to the starting position, and repeat.

Hip extension: Lie face down with the stability ball beneath your abdomen. Place your hands on the floor as in a push-up. Your legs should be nearly straight, with only a slight bend in the knees, and the balls of the feet lightly contacting the floor. Maintain your head in neutral alignment with the spine. Inhale and contract the buttocks, causing both legs to rise until they form a straight line with the spine and head. Pause briefly, then exhale and lower your legs in a controlled manner to the start position and repeat.

For best results, perform the exercises one after another in the suggested order. Begin with one set and work up to three sets of 15 to 25 repetitions of each exercise, two or three non-consecutive days per week.

Stretches

Stretching after your stability-ball core workout will help alleviate post-workout soreness. For optimal benefits, ease into each stretch, hold it without bouncing for 20 to 30 seconds, then ease out of the stretch. Repeat it a total of three to four times.

Back stretch (Drape): Begin with your hands and feet on the ground and the stability ball beneath you for support. Drape yourself over the ball and slowly roll forward and backward as the ball provides a supported, comfortable stretch to the lower back.

Back stretch (Rotation): Lie face up on the floor, knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Hold the stability ball above you between your palms with both arms fully extended. Keep your eyes on the ball and your shoulders on the floor as you gently rotate the stability ball and your knees in opposite directions until they both touch the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat to the opposite side.

Abdominal stretch: Begin with the stability ball centered beneath your lumbar spine and your feet flat on the floor. Relax and allow your upper body to gently drape over the ball.

Stability-Ball Core Workout Tips

Use the following tips to get the most out of your stability-ball core workouts.

  1. Establish a strong mind-body connection. Visualize the working muscles contracting through the appropriate range of motion, and generate a smooth, slow movement.
  2. Never inhale or hold your breath when flexing the spine. Inhaling or holding your breath will increase resistance to spinal flexion and may result in injury to your lumbar spine.
  3. Interlacing the fingers behind the head for curl-ups may cause injury to the cervical vertebrae. Instead, cup the palms of the hands over the ears, with the heels of the hands near the temples and the fingers directed toward the back of the head.
  4. To enhance muscular endurance, maintain the contracted position of the last repetition of an exercise for 15 to 20 seconds.
  5. Excessive abdominal mass (potbelly) significantly increases the load on the lumbar spine. To lose your potbelly, generate a caloric deficit sufficient for loss of up to two pounds of body fat per week.

Suggested Workouts

 Workout 1
 Workout 2
 Curl-up  Diagonal Curl-up
 Reverse Curl-up
 Reverse Curl-up
 Opposite Arm and Leg Lift  Back Extension
 Bridging  Hip Extension
 Back Stretch (Drape)  Back Stretch (Rotation)
 Abdominal Stretch  Abdominal Stretch

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      • Tips for Effective Core Training

      • ABSolutely Effective Abdominal Training

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