This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in August of 2022. For the original video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VKEr_WVZuI
Brad: All right. We're looking at the stability ball! Bob, you know what I always say? It's the beauty of the ball. Now the stability balls are one of the best and the cheapest tools for a complete body workout in my opinion.
Bob: They are about $25, right?
Brad: Somewhere in there, yep. Plus only the stability ball provides unique core strength and balance benefits that you'll get from no other device.
Bob: Take it from somebody who has spondylolisthesis, that's you, Brad.
Brad: Yeah. That's my back problem. I tell you, I've used this with patients for a number of years and myself personally. It's a wonderful device. All right, now make sure you get the right ball for yourself. It's important you get the right size. I think the best way to do it is if you search online exercise ball diameter sizing chart, you'll get a few charts, and it'll say your height, and then it'll give you the diameter of the ball.
Bob: Yeah. I've got long legs. So I need a big ball.
Brad: Yeah, I use a 65-centimeter. I think Bob probably uses a 75 cm ball. You can change your diameter slightly, there's forgiveness in this, but it's not an exact science. One thing for sure is when you sit on the ball, you should have an approximately 90-degree bend at the knees and in the hips.
Bob: Right. If you are too high or too low it's not workable.
Brad: And it's forgiving, again, there is quite a bit of forgiveness. Make sure you have it pumped up to a level that you feel comfortable with. You should not be sinking way into it. This one's a little bit low. I would put maybe a little more air in it, but it's okay. It's going to work fine for this video. All right. 10 exercises. The goal is 10 repetitions per exercise. You could do more if you want. If you haven't done them before, you'll probably get sore muscles tomorrow. That's okay. Join along. You can do them with me. Lie on your back. Put the ball as shown here. If you have shoes on, it actually works a little easier. The shoes will grip the ball because we're going to pick the ball up with our legs. Or if put your skin on the ball, that kind of helps to grab. So you're simply going to do what I call, "knee to chest" or "abdominal curls."
Bob: And the back is protected.
Bob: Yeah. Right here. That's one of the big benefits of doing this if you have a back problem.
Brad: Okay, do 10 of those. And then hands bend your head, you're not going to pull your head forward. You're just going to keep it there. Bring your right elbow to your left knee, then your left elbow to your right knee. You get those oblique and transverse abdominal muscles this way.
Bob: Again, your back is protected.
Brad: Yep. It's a really good way to protect the back. A little strengthening, of the abdominal muscles. Okay. The next one, number two. You're going to lie on your back with your heels on the ball, you're going to lift up, and this is great for the glutes and the core, but we really want to focus on the hamstrings as we do these I call them "Hamstring curls."
Bob: Could you start with not lifting up, Brad?
Brad: Yes. Good point, Bob. You know, if your hamstrings are weak or are they injured you can just push into the ball and roll it towards you.
Bob: That might be enough for you.
Brad: Yep. Exactly. Good point. I'm glad you brought that up. And then as you get stronger, you can lift up. Down the road, you may want to go with one leg and that really challenges you.
Brad: Be careful with that. Don't jump into it right away. All right. Do 10 of those. Okay. Number three, we are going to go on the ball in the prone position and we're going to work the core, but the back side, the back core muscles. So point with your right hand, and extend up with your left leg. You can see the balance I'm challenged with, and the core exercise, Bob, what does it do for your back?
Bob: It strengthens it and because the ball is there, it protects your back.
Brad: It's a nice way to do core. If you have some back problems or you're recovering from a back injury to start with. All right, number four. We're going to stay in this position to make it efficient, and you simply spread your legs out wide toes on the floor. So you have a good base. You can put your hands on the ball and we're just going to do simple back extensions. And I do 10 of these. It's a good way to get all the muscles in the back and the low hips.
Bob: Even though you have Spondy, you can do this right, Brad?
Brad: As long as you go in a pain-free range of motion.
Bob: Right, no pain,
Brad: You want to maintain as much extension as you can if you have spondylolisthesis or spinal stenosis. Just be gentle. Don't push it up.
Bob: Right, absolutely! No pain, absolutely none.
Brad: If you've got a healthy back, if you want to put your hands folded at your chest, it's a little harder for me. I don't worry about it. I just assist on the ball as needed.
Brad: All right. Number five, we're going to go down to the glute max and hip extension. Simply roll forward a little bit, hands out wide here for stability, and lift up one leg and do 10 on each leg.
Bob: You can also do these with the knee bent.
Brad: Yep. So if you bend the knee that takes the hamstring out of it and actually works more the glute max,
Bob: Right, the all-important glute max.
Brad: Yep, so, if you want to have a bent or straight knee, do what works best for you.
Bob: Or both.
Brad: Yeah. That's a good idea as well. All right, come on. Number six then. This is a total body workout so we've done the core, legs now, the arms, and the chest. So you simply stay where you are, except you're rolling forward. You are going to roll forward, and the beauty of the ball is you can change the intensity. If you're not very good at pushups, you may do it with the ball closer to your core. And this is easy to do pushups. If it's too easy, simply walk out a little bit and do your pushups with the ball closer to your feet.
Bob: That's more of a challenge.
Brad: Yeah. You can go all the way out to your toes and it'll get real aggressive. And there's also this instability that makes this a superior pushup, Versus if you do the standard GI pushup without the ball, I really like pushups using the ball. All right, next! The next one is another one for the core and upper body, and you get some LAT work in here, which is sometimes hard to get.
Bob: Really hard.
Brad: I kneel on a pillow because the carpet's a little hard on my knees. It's up to you. Hands on the ball, and you're going to roll out. You may walk out and stretch. The abdominal core is working well. Then come back up.
Bob: This is like the roller wheel.
Brad: Yep. It is. But the thing about this is it has a tendency to go back and forth, especially if you do it with your hands together.
Bob: It challenges you.
Brad: Yep. You're getting some core work in many directions with some balance. So, it's a great way to work the arms, core, and balance. Do 10 of those. All right. This is a real classic exercise for therapists. When you only work the hips and the core; you sit on the ball, with good posture. If you're starting out, I would suggest having someone on both sides to stabilize yourself because this ball is wobbly. Everything's working to keep you upright.
Bob: Well, it's hard to do.
Brad: Yep. It is. If you haven't worked on the ball, be patient with it and have something to stabilize yourself, because you're going to roll down to here, all the way up whatever you're comfortable with, and we're just doing bridging or glute sets.
Bob: And it's easy to roll off.
Brad: Yeah. If you don't hold on, it really energizes a lot of musculatures to keep you balanced. Because I've been doing this for years, I'm quite comfortable with it. It will not be this easy if you're just starting unless you're a natural. Not holding on is much harder. If you want to do one leg, whoa, that's too hard for me, and work that 10 repetitions.
Brad: Okay. Number nine is very similar to the one we just did. However, we're going to go out and instead of doing the bridging or the glute sets, we're just going to hold it and simply straighten one leg. Then do the other leg. If you want to go from two hands to one hand for support, it's more challenging. Without support it really gets wobbly. But that's all up to you. I do not expect it.
Bob: You're shaking.
Brad: Yeah. Oh yeah. So do five on each leg. Build up to 10 on each leg. All right, Bob. Last, but not least, put the ball on the wall for quad-strengthening. I've had many people do this in therapy.
Bob: Yep, me too.
Brad: Make sure you have shoes on or something so your feet do not slip. The carpet works well with these socks. Oftentimes if you have a tiled floor or something like that have your rubber shoes on, you know, tennis shoes, running shoes, whatever it may be, so it's sticky. Feet at least one shoulder width apart and you put them out in front of you a little bit. Good posture. This is the biggest mistake people do is leaning forward with rounded shoulders, they stay slouched. So it's back and upright posture and simply go down. I oftentimes have people start with a cane or a piece of furniture to hold on to for their balance. The big thing, Bob, don't go down too far the first time so you cannot get up.
Bob: That would be a big problem.
Brad: This really works the quadriceps in particular. So go down as far as you feel comfortable if your knees are becoming painful when you do this, don't go that far. And so do 10 of these. I guarantee you, you'll get those muscles working well. So that's number 10, Bob. Once again, the beauty of the ball is going to work your body from top to bottom. Have a good time, and be careful.
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