The exercise ball is one of our most utilized and recommended tools here in the clinic. This primarily is because it’s so versatile and can be used for a variety of conditions and pain symptoms [at any age!] Here are our TOP 8 reasons this is a small investment you won’t regret.
Our Exercise Ball Recommendations:
1. FOR PREGNANCY PAINS: how to use your ball during pregnancy.
2. DIAPHRAGM, RIB, + ROUND LIGAMENT PAIN
For pain conditions, we like to use the ball as a stretching tool. The photo below depicts how you would go about stretching with a ball for diaphragm, rib, and round ligament pain. You’ll be on your knees with your arms outstretched on the ball in front of you. The further out you let the ball roll your arms, the more you will be able to drop your torso to the floor, creating space in the painful areas. For round ligament pain, you may feel more comfortable with the ball closer under the arms, almost like your giving the ball a hug.
3. BACK PAIN // DISC PAIN
You can also use your exercise ball for back pain + disc-type pain! In the photo below, you can see Dr. Jesse extended backward over the ball. This allows for more of a passive stretch, inducing extension into the back and creating space within the joints. Have something next to you to hang on to for stability and roll so the ball is in the middle of your pain point.
IN THE LOW BACK ~ this helps induce the natural curve that often gets affected with long hours of sitting
IN THE MID/UPPER BACK ~ this helps counteract the shoulders being pulled forward, creating space in the front, stretching the chest.
For more stretches targeting back pain: Chiro Stretches + Exercises
4. ALTERNATIVE FOR TUMMY TIME // GUPPY POSE
If your little one isn’t enjoying tummy time on the floor, we recommend trying it on your exercise ball. Gently place babe on the ball and support their body while you rock them back and forth on the ball. The roundness of the ball is soft // rounded + can be more comfortable for babies who don't like tummy time!
Guppy pose is reverse tummy time. It helps with chin + neck extension - both of which are essential for successful breastfeeding. Babies with a tongue or lip tie struggle with extension because the tissue in the tongue connects all the way down into the sacrum. If your baby struggles with tummy time and seems like they are unable to lift their head and extend back this is a useful technique you can do at home! Lay the baby on their back on the ball [or across your lap] and let their head fall back. This lengthens the spine and creates space - allowing for extension and preventing any asymmetrical compensations on either side of the body!
5. DESK ‘CHAIR’
At the office we LOVE to steal the exercise balls and use them as our desk chairs. Swapping your chair out for an exercise ball a few hours a day can help with low back pain, pelvic pain, pubic symphysis dysfunction, + even neck/upper back pain. This is because it helps with your natural ergonomics :
— your pelvis is allowed to be mobile instead of fixed
— pressure is taken off your sacrum
—it forces you to sit upright, rather than slouch ~ helps head position and sore upper backs
— it cues you to engage your core
— BONUS :: small movements on the ball can be a solution if you [ or your child] have troubles sitting still
6. Sifting [ labor + delivery prep ]
Sifting is one tool we use for mamas for labor and delivery preparation. Sifting can be done with any kind of scarf. You have mom laying across the ball, as shown below, belly down and tailbone up with the scarf wrapped around the entire belly. The partner then lifts up on the scarf and ‘sifts’ back and forth. This takes the pressure and weight mom is carrying off the low back.
Doulas and midwives typically provide more formal sifting prep if you are interested!
For more on labor and delivery prep: