If you’re in the process of rehabilitation and recovery from a back injury, have you tried an exercise ball? They’re naturally designed to target and strengthen the same core muscles that ease stress and strain on the spine, especially in the lower back area. While you may find an exercise ball a bit difficult to use at first because it’s purposely unstable, there are ways to safely and effectively use this piece of equipment to rehab your back. Before starting any exercise program, make sure to check with your doctor or Los Angeles spine surgeon to make sure it’s safe for your unique situation.
The first thing to know about using an exercise ball is that muscles that stabilize your spine will automatically be stimulated when you use it. This is because your body has a natural inclination to keep you from falling or losing your balance. Ultimately, this is a good thing, since this muscle activation can rehab your back by:
• Strengthening and toning muscle fibers
• Reducing pain and stiffness
• Increasing strength and spine function
An exercise ball increases muscle strength within the torso in a way that can boost your posture as you sit or stand. In turn, your stability can be improved as you walk, which can minimize your risk of falling. One way to target core trunk-area muscles is by simply sitting on an exercise ball for about half an hour. Start with sitting on a partially deflated exercise ball if you have a difficult time sitting comfortably or keeping stable.
Once you get used to sitting on an exercise ball to stimulate your spine-supporting muscles, go a bit further and use it for other exercises. One of these is exercise ball planks, which are done by:
• Putting your elbows and forearms on the top of the ball and placing your feet on the floor
• Elevating your legs and trunk and keeping them straight and holding the position
• Tightening your abdominal and lower back area to stimulate core spine-supporting muscles
When you do this exercise, maintain a straight line from your shoulders down to your ankles to ensure your body is correctly positioned.
Stiff spinal muscles can affect your spine’s joints enough to limit mobility or make your spine unable to handle heavier loads. An exercise ball spinal rotation can solve this problem by easing muscle stiffness and increasing endurance and strength. This exercise is done by:
• Resting on your back and placing your feet and calves on the ball
• Controlling the ball with your legs and core muscles
• Rotating the ball from side to side
One of the things a healthy spine needs to be able to do without pain is move forward and backward. This type of multidirectional spinal motion can be improved with a modification of the classic yoga child’s pose done with an exercise ball to stretch multiple muscles at the same time. Do this type of ball exercise by:
• Kneeling with the ball placed in front of you
• Putting a forearm on top of the ball and tucking the opposite one below your trunk
• Slowly easing back on your heels with your forearm on the ball while bending your torso to the side slightly
• Keeping your other arm extended under your trunk
The general recommendation with these exercise ball routines is to start off with a limited number of sets and hold the required positions briefly. Once you see improvements in strength, flexibility, and mobility, feel free to gradually increase sets and the duration of holds. Just remember to stop if you notice any unexpected discomfort.
People who need advice on the proper way to exercise after back surgery or an injury should reach out to the physicians at The Spine Institute. Whether they require medication, physical therapy, or a procedure such as ACDF surgery, Los Angeles patients can rely on the experience and expertise of our pioneering doctors to help them find relief from their pain. Call us today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.