ACE Fitness Tools of the Trade: Stability Ball 101
The Ball Is An Effective Tool for Stretching and Mobility Exercises
The fun shape of the stability ball offers a more entertaining way to add variety to your stretches and allows for greater range of motion than what can normally be achieved on the floor. However, many active people overlook the importance of stretching.
“The benefits of stretching include reduced muscle tension and stiffness which help promote greater freedom of movement and improved posture,” said Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for ACE. “Because of its shape and ease of use, the stability ball can be a safe and effective form of stretching for all levels of exercisers from beginners, older adults and people with special conditions to highly fit, athletic individuals.”
ACE suggests the following simple yet effective stretches on the ball:
- Back Extension – Start in a seated position with your fingertips supporting the back of your head both your elbows out. Walk your feet out until your upper back is lying on the ball while continuing to support your head and back. For a more intense stretch, lengthen your arms overhead and straighten your legs – breathe deeply and hold the stretch.
- Kneeling Side – Start by kneeling upright on a mat with the ball at the side of your right hip, place your right hand on the ball and your left arm hanging close to your torso. Sweep your left arm in a wide arc up and over your head and back to the starting position. Repeat three to five times. Hold the final arc in a lifted position 10-30 seconds for a static stretch.
- Pelvic Circles – Start in a seated base position. Slowly circle your hips clockwise three to five times; reverse, circling counterclockwise. Focus on releasing tension in the hips and lower back.
To learn about these stability ball exercises and more visit http://www.acefitness.org/media/stretchandrelease.pdf.
Remember to spend five to 10 minutes warming up before stretching, since stretching warm muscles is both safer and more productive. Most stretches should be held at least 10 to 30 seconds to get the maximum benefit.
For more information on working out with a stability ball, visit www.acefitness.org to order the ACE Stability Ball Training book.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s Authority on Fitness, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation’s “workout watchdog,” ACE sponsors university-based exercise science research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at www.acefitness.org.
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