Balance ball chairs aren’t just for building a strong core. It can improve your health as a whole because sitting for long periods of time can be so detrimental.
According to research in the BMC Public Health Journal, employees who spend all of their work hours sitting are more susceptible to cardiovascular or metabolic issues, as well as chronic back and neck pain, than those who sit less than 75 percent of the time. That’s because remaining sedentary for prolonged stretches can affect spinal curvature, increase static load pressure on the muscles, and cause weight problems, the research continues.
While it’s often unavoidable to spend at least part of the day sitting, there is a healthier, more ergonomic alternative to traditional office chairs. Enter: the balance ball chair. It has a back rest and roller wheels just like a normal swivel chair, but instead of a cushion, you’ll sit on an exercise ball.
Making this swap can stabilize posture, enhance core strength, reduce musculoskeletal pain, and boost overall health. Here are the benefits of using a balance ball chair and how to incorporate it into your work life.
Balance Ball Chair Benefits
Improves your sitting posture
Many traditional chairs force the body into a forward-leaning position, called the static slouch. This places your main center of gravity in front of the glutes and over the thighs. Over time, this can result in chronic back or neck pain.
However, as the Medicine Journal points out, when you use unstable equipment like an exercise ball, the core muscles have to work harder to maintain your upright balance. This causes you to sit straighter with just a small natural curve in the spine. That improved posture alignment reduces spinal compression while sitting which, in turn, can help alleviate strain on the back and neck.
Strengthens core muscle tone
The sheer act of sitting on an exercise ball does not automatically tone core muscles. But when you integrate other simple motions to activate the obliques and abdominals while sitting, you’ll start to build a stronger, more functional core. Since the core muscles are the body’s center of balance and support, it’s crucial to maintain their level of fitness.
According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, abdominal movements performed on an unstable surface increase core resistance. As the muscles compensate for this resistance with more effort and exertion, they become stronger.
Increases your lung capacity
As the balance ball chair improves spinal alignment and activates strong core muscles, you’ll breathe easier too—literally. A study from the Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy and Research found that a change in the biomechanics of sitting posture directly impacts lung function.
When you sit with a contracted core and upright, neutral spine (like an exercise ball teaches you to do), this elevates lung capacity to increase airflow in the body. Aside from boosting respiratory health, breathing deeper can also help with circulatory, metabolic, nervous, and musculoskeletal functions, the journal explains.
How to Use a Balance Ball Chair
To optimize the wellness benefits of a balance ball chair, it’s important to make sure you use it correctly. Unlike a traditional office chair that you slouch into, a balance ball chair requires you to maintain an aligned posture and stabilized core.
Here’s how to position yourself for maximum comfort and well-being.:
- Place both feet firmly on the ground in front of you with the knees hip-width apart. Stretch the hamstrings periodically to avoid tightness and pelvic tilt.
- Straighten your spine with just a small natural curve, then rotate the pelvis slightly forward to release pressure from the lumbar region of your lower back.
- Roll the shoulders down and back, then lift the chin to prevent your neck from bending. Adjust the computer screen, so it’s parallel to this neck and chin position.
- Make alternating circular and side-to-side motions with your glutes and lower back while seated on the exercise ball. This will activate the abdominal muscles.
- Stand up from the chair and move on an hourly basis, at a Walk around to boost circulation and perform a few basic exercises on the ball itself. It’s easily removable from the chair frame, so you can use it for crunches, planks, bridges, spinal twists, leg curls, hip tucks, side angle stretches, and other simple but effective motions.
Switch to a balance ball chair to start reaping the benefits
A balance ball chair may be what your wellness routine is missing. If you have to spend at least some hours on the job in a seated position, sitting in this style of seat allows you to take better care of your body while improving function, muscle tone, and even your breathing. Don’t underestimate the power of this simple switch!