Fitballs, also known as Swiss, Stability or Yoga balls, are a safe and very effective tool for exercising. They are suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels, from the occasional home user to elite athletes.
The fitball provides instability and mobility while exercising, which strengthens and works the "core/spinal" stablilsers. These are the deep abdominal muscles that play a very important role in good posture and back care. While using the fitball for training you are stimulating those deep muscles, so not only is it great for exercising but also for injury prevention.
The general rule for choosing the ball for you is that when sitting on the inflated ball your hips and knees must be at a 90-degree angle. It is ok for your hips to be higher than your knees but not lower. For a novice or someone with poor balance a larger ball will provide better stability and support. Also, if you suffer back problems the larger ball will be more suitable. You can always slightly under inflate it so it feels softer to sit on. Fitballs are measured in centimeters.
Check out the right one for your height.
Under 1.52m = 45cm
1.53m – 1.66m = 55cm
1.67m – 1.85m = 65cm
1.86m – 2.03m = 75cm
Over 2.04m = 85cm
The Finer Points
There are many versions of the fitball available, but don’t compromise your safety by buying a cheap, poorly made ball, especially if you are using the fitball throughout pregnancy and for post natal exercises. Here at eFit30.com.au we use fitballs that are slightly weighted with sand (Balast balls) in our pregnancy workouts, because they don’t roll or blow away and they provide extra resistance during upper body exercises.
You should ensure the ball you buy has an anti-burst rating that equals or exceeds 500kg. These balls are also more resistant to wear and tear. It is preferable to have a non-slip vinyl surface, while many fitballs come with ribbing for extra traction and support.
Cost and Availability
Fitballs range in price from around $30 to $145 and some are packaged with pumps and instruction DVD’s. The pump can be purchased separately for between $15 and $20 or if you have a foot pump at home with a cone nozzle that could also do the job. The burst resistant balls are slightly more expensive, but well worth the money.
They are usually available from sports stores, physiotherapists, fitness centres and rehabilitation equipment stores. If you purchase online, make sure you are dealing with a reputable site.
Fitballs are a convenient and useful tool for any age or fitness level and can be used both indoors and out. Unlike other gym equipment, they can be deflated and easily stored away when not in use. The right sized fitball will help you maintain good posture and get the most out of your fitball workouts.