Simple Exercises for Low Back Pain part 2
Previously I talked about an exercise that can be performed at home to help improve low back pain and prevent recurrence of injury. Bird dogs are just one such exercise that the Chiropractors at our clinic in Eastbourne give to our guests. Today I am going to talk about two other exercises that are perfect for recovering from a nasty bout of low back pain.
This exercise is rather simple to perform, and like the bird dog has progressions and regressions depending on whether you need to make it harder of easier respectively. The purpose of this exercise is similar to the bird dog; help improve the endurance of the core musculature, particularly the lateral trunk flexors. On top of this, as this exercise is only performed on one side at a time it can be helpful in balancing up any muscle imbalances that occur as part of our day to day life.
To perform this exercise:
• Lie on the floor with your knees flexed at 90 degrees and your spine straight. You should be in a similar position to the video
• Similarly to the bird dog, before initiating any movement maintain an abdominal brace.
• You should then drive your hips forward, such that your torso is in a straight line elevated from the floor, supported by your elbow and your knee closest to the ground.
• This position should be held for a couple of seconds, and then slowly bend your hips such that you go back down to the floor
The above steps describe one repetition, and this exercise is best performed aiming for 12-20 repetitions on each side, for a total of three sets.
To increase the difficulty of this exercise, you can perform it with your legs straight instead of knees flexed to 90 degrees. This is more difficult due to the increased demand on your core musculature.
To progress even further, instead of doing 20 repetitions with a one or two second hold, try performing one repetition of a 45 second hold. This will really test the endurance of your muscles, but if you start to feel any uncontrollable shaking at any time, stop there and perform the same number of seconds on the other side.
This exercise is also performed lying on your side. The purpose of this exercise is to help increase the activation of some of the muscles around the hip and pelvis, specifically the gluteus maximus. This muscle becomes inactive through extended sitting and contributes towards hip, pelvis and low back pain when it is inactive.
Instead of having to perch yourself on your elbow, you can lie down on your side in whichever way you are comfortable in, as long as your knees are flexed to 90 degrees and your pelvis is level with your shoulders. See the below photo for guidance if you are struggling with this.
To perform this exercise:
• adopt the position in the video
• place your top hand on your buttock so that you can feel the muscle activation
• keeping your feet touching, open up your top hip such that your knee is raised in the air. Only go as far as your hip will allow, as otherwise you will start to recruit the wrong muscles and the exercise will lose its effectiveness
This exercise is best performed with 10-12 repetitions done for three sets on each side. The beauty of this exercise is that it is very easy to do. The difficulty in it is concentrating and really trying to feel the buttock muscle activating.
If you have any queries or concerns, feel free to comment below or pop in and see us at our Chiropractic clinic in Eastbourne.
Thanks for reading
As a chiropractor, I see a large number of joint, muscle and nerve problems each day. Osteoporosis is one such problem I regularly encounter. Osteoporosis is a disease characterised by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, with a consequent increase in bone fragility which can increase a client’s susceptibility to fracture (NICE 2013).
Many patients ask whether chiropractic is safe for those with this condition. The answer is yes, as a chiropractor we use a number of different techniques. From very light treatment suitable for babies to a high speed adjustment which would be suitable for most adults. If a patient were to have osteoporosis we can adapt our treatment so it is suitable for their needs.
More about osteoporosis
Bones contain collagen (protein), calcium salts and other minerals. Each bone is made up of a thick outer shell known as cortical bone and a strong inner mesh of trabecular bone. Like all parts of the body, our bones are alive and constantly changing throughout life. Old, worn out bone is broken down by cells called osteoclasts and replaced by bone building cells called osteoblasts, in a process of renewal. After the age of 35, bone loss increases very gradually as part of the natural ageing process. This bone loss becomes more rapid in women for several years following the menopause and can lead to osteoporosis.
Managing risk factors for osteoporosis
Healthy eating tips:
- Eat plenty of starchy foods but try to make them the whole grain variety, such as brown rice and pasta.
- Eat more fish. Try for two portions a week and remember oily fish, such as mackerel, are also a good source of vitamin D.
- Cut down on saturated fats and sugar. Check out food labels before you purchase. 5g or more of saturated fat per 100g and 10g or more of sugars per 100g is a lot.
- Try to cut down on the amount of salt you eat. Again, read food labels carefully and remember that 0.5g or more of sodium per 100g is high.
- A calcium intake of at least 1000 mg/day is recommended for people at increased risk of a fragility fracture. 10 micrograms (400 units) of vitamin D with at least 1000 mg of calcium daily, available as Calcichew D3® chewable tablets (calcium 500 mg, colecalciferol 5 micrograms).
Bone is a living tissue which reacts to increases in loads and forces by growing stronger. It does this all the time, so exercise will only increase bone strength if it increases the loading above normal levels.
These types of activities are often recommended for people at high risk of fracture or recovering from fracture:
- Strength-training exercises (exercises using body weight as resistance), especially for the back.
- Weight-bearing aerobic activities.
- Flexibility exercises.
- Stability and balance exercises to reduce the risk of falling.
- Aerobic training with controlled movements.
- Prolonged exercise is not necessary in order to stimulate bone.
What exercises not to do with osteoporosis
- It is important not to rush into unaccustomed exercise too quickly – Begin with activities you know you can do comfortably and then gradually increase the intensity.
- A little muscle stiffness for a day or two after exercise indicates that you have done more than usual; this will stimulate improvements – However, persistent pain may be a sign of injury and if it persists for longer than a few days you should arrange to see your GP.
- Think carefully about undertaking activities that may increase the chance of a fall.
- Always maintain an upright posture – Avoid too much forward bending, such as touching the toes.
- Avoid: High-impact, fast-moving exercises such as jumping, running, jogging or skipping.
- Avoid: Exercises in which you bend forwards and twist your waist, such as touching your toes or doing sit-ups.
Suitable osteoporosis home exercises
These exercises target the muscles that support the spine and enable us to maintain an upright posture. They can be done in bed if you do not find it possible to lie on the floor.
Lying-down exercises for strength (on your front) – Put your arms at the sides of your body, with your palms facing downwards and resting on the floor. Your forehead should also be facing downwards and resting on the floor. Raise your back, head and shoulders, keeping your hips and legs on the floor. Repeat the exercise. Progress by turning the palms and forearms up towards the ceiling, still resting on the floor.
Back, neck and head lifts – Lie on your back. Push your hands and arms gently into the floor and raise your forehead off your hands by a few inches, keeping the back of your neck long as you do so and keeping your chin in. This will help you to get the feel of the movement.
Leg lift – Lying on your front, rest your head comfortably on crossed arms. Keeping your legs straight, tighten your buttock muscles and, keeping the leg as long as you can, raise one leg slowly off the floor by a few inches. Hold then lower slowly back to the floor. Keep both hips in contact with the floor throughout. Count five on the way up and five on the way down. Relax completely for a count of 10. Repeat with the other leg.
Build up to two sets of 10 repetitions. This is also an excellent exercise for helping to reduce spinal curvature. You may like to use ankle weights, to increase the effectiveness of this exercise.
Cat-Camel – Get onto your hands and knees, making sure that your shoulders are above your hands and your hips are above your knees. Start by make a U shape with your back. Take a deep breath in, as you exhale face ahead, relax your lower back and allow your pelvis to move forwards towards the floor. Only move as much as is comfortable. Hold for a few seconds and release.
The second stage involves making your back into an arch shape, breath in and as you breathe out, gently pull your tummy in and press your back towards the ceiling. Let your head drop so that you’re looking at the floor. Hold for a few seconds and release.
Weight-bearing aerobic activities involve doing aerobic exercise on your feet, with your bones supporting your weight. Examples include walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics, elliptical (cross) training machines and stair climbing. These types of exercise work directly on the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine to slow bone loss. They can also provide cardiovascular benefits, which boost heart and circulatory system health.
Swimming and water aerobics have many benefits, but they are not generally classed as weight-bearing and don’t have the impact on the skeleton required to influence bone strength.
- Stationary bikes – The seat of your stationary bike needs to be positioned high enough so your knees do not bend more than 90 degrees or come up higher than your seat when you are pedalling. With the pedals positioned further away like this, you reduce stress on your knees. A regular, upright stationary bike provides a more intense workout than a recumbent bike. However, a recumbent bike reclines and is designed to reduce stress and strain on your knees and lower back.
- Elliptical trainer – An elliptical trainer provides a low-impact workout, similar to walking, but with a high-intensity cardio workout. The elliptical trainer, a cross between a stair climber and stationary bike, works all of your major muscle groups and can help you lose weight and shape up without hurting your knees (Eustice 2014, Arthritis Foundation 2014).
- Tai Chi– is a safe intervention for reducing multiple fracture risks. The slow movements help to improve balance while its deep breathing techniques aid relaxation. Tai Chi addresses muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and, to a lesser degree, aerobic conditioning (Graham 2011).
If you have found this blog post helpful and would like to read more from me, then you can find more here on Backblog or on my own chiropractic site www.clearlychiropractic.co.uk for more information.
Caroline Mulliner, Doctor of Chiropractic.
Glute exercises: Here’s how to fire up your glutes!
Do you sit a lot at work? Do you have underactive gluteal muscles? Find some easy glute exercises you can try at home to get them firing up!
Sitting at the desk for hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after year means that your glutes ( bottom) become lazy and underactive! This causes the body to adapt allowing it to become far less dependent on the musculature and joints found within the lower body, which ultimately leads to muscle weakness and inhibition. The glutes are vital muscles needed in walking, standing, moving from sitting to standing among many other isolated movements.
Weak/ underactive glutes can lead to tight hip flexors, knee problems, discs damage, back pain, and even poor posture. Even if you don’t suffer from any back pain but do sit for long hours, inhibited glutes can adversely affect your training results, and can render you at a higher risk of injury.
The glutes are the largest muscle in the body, they consist of three separate muscles: Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus. Strong glutes help you run faster, jump higher, or lift heavier; these are all functions which help us to go about our daily business without having to think or worry about it.
If your glutes have become underactive, it can become quite difficult to ‘fire’ them up. When the glutes have been asleep for so long, making a connection and firing them up can be harder than it sounds.
If you’re having trouble engaging your glutes, give the following exercises a go, and consider including them in your routine. Whilst we all know that deadlifts and squats are fabulous for targeting glutes, they are big compound movements and are best completed when the glutes are actively firing. Some simpler exercises to help the glutes to fire are:
Single leg deadlift (no weight)
- Start by standing, balancing on one leg, keeping it slightly bent.
- Pivoting from the hip, bend the knee behind you and start lowering your upper body towards the floor. Make sure to keep your spine neutral and to engage your abs. This is a similar slowed down movement to a golfer’s lift.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
Hip thrusters (with or without weight)
- Start by sitting on the ground with your back against the bench.
- Place a barbell directly above your hips. You may want to use a barbell pad to reduce any discomfort you might feel from the bar.
- Starts by pushing up through your feet and then extend your hips vertically through the bar.
- The weight should be supported through your shoulders and toes. Squeeze your glutes at the top. Then slowly return to starting position.
One leg raise
- Start by lying on the floor with bent knees. Make sure you don’t arch your back and instead push your lower back into the mat.
- Raise one leg off of the ground, pushing down through the other foot.
- When you have extended as far as possible, pause and slowly return to starting position. Either let your leg touch the floor or not.
Side-lying leg raise
- Start by lying on your side on the floor. Rest you arm on the floor. 2. With bent or straight legs raise the top leg up as far as they can go and then return to starting position.
Rear leg raises
- Start by kneeling on all fours with your hands positioned directly underneath your shoulders, ensuring not to lock out your elbows, and keeping your knees in line with your hips.
- Make sure to pull your stomach to your spine, engaging your abs, maintaining a neutral spine
- Now straighten your left leg and raise it as high as you can. Hold at the end, squeeze your glutes,
If you have found this blog helpful and would like to read more by me, why not check out my other posts here on www.backblog.co.uk or find my individual chiropractic site www.clearlychiropractic.co.uk for more information.
Here are some exercises that you can do at home to maintain hip mobility
As we know, prevention is better than cure. So, in this blog post I will discuss some basic hip stretches that you can do at home to keep your hips mobile and your legs strong. As we age, our joints may become more stiff and immobile, and this can lead to people doing less walking and exercise than they used to. The knock-on effect of this can have a big impact over time.
Imagine an older gentleman who used to be active – perhaps he would walk regularly or simply socialise outdoors in the evening. He starts to feels uncomfortable and stiff in the hips after walking so instead he avoids it and sits for 2.5 hours each night in front of the TV instead of making the effort to go out. The man in this example will spend an extra 17.5 hours sitting still per week, which adds up to a huge 912 more hours spent lounging on the sofa in a year!!
The effect that this has on his body is significant – his muscles become weaker and less able to support him when he does have to walk, for example around the shops. He’s also likely to get more aching when he asks his body to do things that used to be normal for him, such as climbing stairs or playing with his grandchildren. He may complain of the ‘aches and pains of getting older’, when in actual fact some or all of his aches might have been prevented or at least reduced had he kept his activity levels up.
Try the stretches below and do them every day to keep your hip mobility at its best. Check with your chiropractor if you have any questions.
Hip flexor stretch
This stretches out the muscles at the front of the hips, the ones that lift your knee up as you step forwards during your stride. Begin by standing with one foot in front of the other (with a fairly wide gap between your feet) and tuck your bottom underneath you. Push your hips gently forward into a lunge position until you feel a stretch at the front of the hip. Hold each side for 30 seconds and do three times.
Stand facing a wall and put the heel of one foot close to it with the toe up and resting on the wall. Push your hips forward until you feel a stretch down the back of the leg and calf. Hold each side for 30 seconds and do three times.
Lie on your back and bring one knee to your chest – you should feel a stretch in the buttock. Hold each side for 30 seconds and do three times.
This is for the muscles that bring your knees together. Lie on your back and bring one leg into a ‘frog-leg’ position with the knee dropping out to the side. You should feel a stretch in the inner leg, and you’ll find over the first few weeks of doing this stretch that you can drop the knee further and further down towards the floor. Just as with the others, hold each side for 30 seconds and do three times.
Thanks for reading!
Chiropractor’s search for Exercise in Eastbourne
My Search For Exercise
Eastbourne chiropractor, Caroline, talks about finding the right environment to stay fit and healthy through exercise.
Since I recently moved home I have been searching for the ideal place to exercise in Eastbourne. I have always enjoyed swimming and prior to moving to the area I went swimming once a week and also went to the gym. Whilst settling into my new chiropractic position and finding my way around Eastbourne there have been a number of venues that have caught my eye. However, I have yet to make the time to go.
Luckily enough, recently because of one of the patients/guests I have been in contact with a personal trainer who owns and runs a local fitness studio in Eastbourne. With my patient’s consent I was able to discuss with Emma Rogers about the needs of this person and was able to advise her on which exercises would and wouldn’t be suitable for them. When I spoke to Emma, I was delighted to hear of her passion and enthusiasm for taking a client through an individualised exercise programme. Following our conversation I was persuaded to try one of Emma’s exercise classes for myself and was not disappointed.
I openly admit to not being the sportiest of people and do struggle to find an exercise that I enjoy. However, I am lucky to live in such a fantastic location; there are numerous great locations to exercise in Eastbourne, even if it’s just heading out for a simple walk. Each day I spend 30 minutes walking to and from Lushington Chiropractic and at the weekend I always tend to be on the go, completing on average more than 10,000 steps.
My weekend walk up Beachy Head, Eastbourne
I also try and team my daily walking with a healthy balanced diet. I am always the first to try a new exciting recipe that will help to keep my body working at its best. However, it is also very important for the health of your brain and circulatory system to get in some high intensity exercise into your daily life.
If you have any suggestions of local Eastbourne spots for me to explore or exercise classes I need to try then please comment. Also you can find some quick and healthy recipes by following my blog.
Lushington Chiropractic is a multi-award winning clinic in Eastbourne, helping thousands of patients to achieve relief from pain and discomfort.
Lushington Chiropractic can help people of all ages
My parents have both used Lushington Chiropractic.
My 90 year old Dad came to see Mykel Mason (Doctor of chiropractic) with shoulder pain and a problem with his ankle, his ankle is much improved and his shoulder was getting a lot better until he had a fall and fractured his wrist which needed wiring and the neck of his humerus which needed pining! He will be returning to continue chiropractic treatment when he is fully healed.
My 86 year old Mum also came to see Mykel with a problem with her arm and a numbness in her fingers in one hand, Mykel worked very hard to help Mum with adjustments and suggestions of various exercises she could do to help increase her range of motion, she has also had a number of therapeutic massages with Sue Hudson.
They have both been very pleased with the treatment they have had but also commented on how friendly and welcoming the clinic was, they particularly found our wonderful team of clinic assistants very kind and helpful!
They both enjoyed coming to our Open day here in Eastbourne which was held on a lovely sunny day in July last year, they were very interested to hear about all the other therapies offered at Lushington Chiropractic, Why not come along to the Wellbeing Open Day this year on Wednesday 28th October 10.00am – 2.00pm where Lushington Chiropractic is celebrating its 10th Birthday!!
Its 10 years since James Revell (Doctor of Chiropractic) first opened the doors of Lushington Chiropractic and it has come a long way!
The clinic has 10 years of proven award winning service to over 8,000 local people
You can be sure of a warm welcome at Lushington Chiropractic
Find out how to sleep like a baby!
Top 10 tips to get you sleeping like a baby
We often speak about sleeping like a baby with tongue firmly in cheek. Yet there is real truth in the saying when we think about how we as a society seem to value sleep so much during a child’s youth and then casually cast aside those rules or ourselves into adulthood.
It is important for us all to understand that many important processes take place during sleep, both as a child and a grown-up. This time is critical to our wider health and wellbeing and so it is important for us all to embrace a good sleep routine rather than willingly allow ourselves to become sleep deprived.
Here are our 10 top tips:
- Use your bed only for sleeping do not use it for a sofa or desk or an entertaining area for friends.
- Get yourself in to a routine or schedule so your body clock starts to become familiar with when you should be sleeping.
- Relax your mind, trying a warm bath, some deep breathing and start to think warm cosy thoughts 30 minutes before getting in to your bed.
- Try and refrain from too much visual stimulation in the last hour before bedtime. That includes iPads, TVs and smart phones.
- Once in bed, practise my deep abdominal breathing exercise from my recent post.
- Eat a larger meal at lunch time preferably meat, fish, veggies, fruit, seeds and nuts and smaller meal in the evening a good time before even thinking about getting into bed
- Do not drink caffeine after mid afternoon, the effects of it can last a while and individuals tolerate it differently so experiment with what works for you.
- Make your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible.
- Take out any large electronic equipment such as TVs, and don’t sleep with your mobile phone under your pillow or preferably not even in the same room.
- Exercise in the day to increase your oxygen capacity and keep a healthy body.
I hope these simple tips help you to sleep better. Sleep is so important and not all of us get enough. Remember the five pillars of health and work on each of these aspects to your life to achieve a healthier you.
Five pillars of Health
Nervous system – Chiropractic
Stress and relaxation
Sleep and rest
If you want to know how to improve your sleep – both by getting into a better routine and treating the aches and pains that are keeping you awake at night – why not ask your chiropractor for more top tips next time you book an appointment.
Are you based in Eastbourne? Why not call Lushington Chiropratic on 01323 722499.
5 ways to perk up your day – a happiness boost
Give your day a happiness boost
Do you ever have those days where things aren’t going your way or could do with a little extra ‘oomph’? Here are a few top tips, courtesy of Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne.
Perk up your day 1: Sweat
We all know that physical activity is good for us but we don’t always think about it making us happier. Although exercise can feel like hard work, the rush of hormones that follow it actually play a role in our positive state of mind.
If you can find the energy to do some form of physical activity such as running, walking or even dancing around the house, those positive hormones – known as endorphins – will start flowing. Once you’ve finished your exercise and got your breath back, you should feel a boost in your state of mind. Try it!
Perk up your day 2: A nice gesture
One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to do something nice for someone else. Why not give someone a cuddle or make tea for a loved one? That warm fuzzy feeling that stems from seeing someone else happy because of you is contagious. Giving back to the world in some way, big or small, is enough to make life that little bit brighter.
Perk up your day 3: Have quiet time
If you’re feeling moody, take yourself out of all social situations and take a few long, deep breaths. By the time you’ve had a little time away from people and calmed down, a problem rarely seems as bad. Then you can begin the process of working towards a solution to your problem or boosting your mood.
Perk up your day 4: Wake up a few minutes earlier
Rather than rushing around the house in a panic, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier in the morning so you can get up and ready at a leisurely pace. Rushing may energise us but it can often cause stress and add unnecessary pressure during the course of the day. From an important business meeting to a trip to your chiropractor, aim to leave more time than you need and arrive at your destination early. That way you’ll feel more prepared and relaxed.
Perk up your day 5: Have a warm bath or shower
Baths and showers are proven to have healing effects as they make us feel like our worries are washing away. Instead of hopping in and out of the shower, make time for a relaxing bubble bath. Even if it only lasts for 15 minutes, you’ll feel much better after it. The heat of a bath or shower is also great for loosening those muscles and looking after your body.
What makes you happy? Leave your comments below.
Lushington Chiropractic is a multi-award winning chiropractic and sports massage clinic in Eastbourne town centre. We provide a range of treatments from expert chiropractic care to nutritional therapy, counselling, acupuncture, podiatry, sports massage and relaxing massage.
We genuinely care about our patients and improving their quality of life. We have an extremely professional and dedicated team who deliver the highest service and have over 80 years’ expertise between them.
Discovering an all-new you through acupuncture
Could you be saying hello to an all-new you this year with the help of acupuncture?
January is always a good time of year to reflect on what has gone before, as well as setting a course for the New Year. For many people it is the time of year to focus on their health and look to effective treatments such as acupuncture.
It’s not unusual for people to succumb to seasonal bouts of coughs, colds and flus during these post-Christmas winter months. But why is it that some people are affected more or less than others?
For an acupuncture practitioner this is due, not solely, to the many germs and viruses around, but largely to the relative deficiency of one’s own vital energy or Qi. When one’s energy is low this can result in a weakened immune system, allowing colds and flus to flourish.
There are many factors that can deplete your energy and consequently weaken your overall health. These may include diet and nutrition, stress, lack of exercise, lifestyle, overworking and many external factors.
By tackling these issues it should be possible to increase one’s energy reserve and bring the body’s inner landscape into better balance. The result of this is typically a stronger immune system and an increased sense of wellbeing.
Acupuncture works on balancing and increasing this energy throughout the body and I find it interesting to note that people who receive regular acupuncture treatments suffer much less with colds and other minor illnesses.
So what else can we do to improve things as we start the New Year?
After the rich foods and revelry of December, January is the perfect time to take an interest in one’s diet and begin to choose healthier options – ones that bring us closer to vibrant health. Choosing an exercise that is stimulating and keeps you interested will also help to keep you going throughout the year.
Finding ways to lead a better work/life balance is vital and will enable you to avoid burning out and will enable you to enjoy more fully your leisure time. Stress and emotions are two huge factors that drain energy and are well worth considering.
Like all of the team members at Lushington Chiropractic, I believe in the importance of self-care, and I encourage clients to be aware and vigilant of the stresses and strains that impact on their daily lives. It is a well known fact that constant worry and anxiety have a dramatic effect on the body. They act like a leaky tap, constantly draining our vital energy. Understanding where and why this is happening will have an immediate effect. It is a topic that I am passionate about as an acupuncture practitioner, so expect some more blog articles on this in the near future.
Finally, there is one more way you can rev up your energy reserves. It is one which has had the most powerful and enduring effect on my own life and the one I now teach to many students in my classes around the local area. Tai Chi and Qigong are gentle, yet thorough, therapeutic exercise systems which have stood the test of time. They were specifically developed hundreds of years ago to not only work on the musculo-skeletal system but also to enhance the body’s natural energy reserves through specific movements, breathing techniques and internal awareness.
If you would like to find out more about how acupuncture could help you please drop the clinic a call or email, contact us via our Facebook page or come and have a chat with me at the clinic.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this and look forward to your comments.
Have a great New Year
Want Stability? Exercise with Swiss balls
Do you want to work on your stability and get a workout at the same time? Exercising with a Swiss ball could be the solution you’ve been looking for. In this article we will look at the best ways to use a Swiss ball (sometimes known as a stability ball or Yoga ball) to improve your health.
The stability ball is a piece of exercise equipment used for strength training, improving balance and core stability. It is popular not just with chiropractors but with many sportsmen and women who understand the benefits of this form of training.
You may have seen people simply sitting on Swiss balls at their office desks instead of using a chair. In fact, I am often asked if using a stability ball at work is a good idea. People see that there is chance to work their core during a time of the day that is typically considered to be sedentary, so feel that there is potential for improving strength as well as health and posture by using one. We all know that having stronger abdominals and a better core helps to protect the lower back and reduce pain. So it should be a great idea, right?
Unfortunately, not all the time. There are some drawbacks to a Swiss ball that you should be aware of. If you have been having chiropractic treatment and have been told you need to improve your posture because you normally sit with flexion in your lumbar spine and lots of forward head carriage, then a Swiss ball may sound appealing. From the bad posture in the office chair, you may manage to sit with good posture on the ball for 5 minutes ( if you are lucky). But the reality is that for the rest of the day, when your attention is on work rather than spinal alignment, you will naturally return to an incorrect position on an unsteady surface.
A study in the “Journal of Canadian Chiropractic Association” by chiropractors Larry G. Merritt and Celynne M. Merritt showed that two people who reportedly suffered from lower back pain improved when they began consistently sitting on a stability ball.
However, I find that a lot of the people I see suffering with lower back pain do not have the core muscles to sustain the increased amount of workload required to sit properly on a stability ball as an office chair.
What I do find useful is to have a low back “support”. I have put support in ” because that is what it should provide you – support. Sitting correctly does require you to practise. You need to be conscious of your spinal position and what the muscles are doing around your trunk. All of this takes time to become normal for you. Here are some key points to bear in mind:
Drawbacks of a Swiss ball
- The ball doesn’t have any arm rests to help support some of the load of the body
- Your lower back has no support so muscle around your spine may get tired after only a short period
- The ball may be the correct size for you but that may not be the correct size for your worktop/desk space
- Using a Swiss ball is about creating instability, so if you already have balance issues it may be too much for you initially
- The ball could roll away
Proper Sitting Techniques
Getting started with your stability ball
If you are between 4 feet 11 and 5 feet 4, select a ball that is 55 cm in diameter. If you are between 5 feet 5 and 5 feet 11, use a ball that is 65 cm in diameter. If you are over 6 feet, choose a ball that is 75 cm.
Start slowly when you first begin using a stability ball. Just 1 – 2 minutes at a time can be enough in the first few days, before you steadily build up your strength. Ensure that you retain good posture throughout. Remember: without a low back support you are likely to work the trunk support hard so try not to contract the muscles around the low back too hard. The trick is to sit upright and well but stay relaxed in those muscles. Your muscles will build strength and endurance and it will become easier for you to sit correctly for longer.
You should also seek approval from seniors before bringing your ball to work.
What else can I use my ball for?
Sitting is not the only exercise that can be done on the ball. It is a great piece of equipment to have and there are so many exercises that you can do with them. Like any new exercise routine, you should always consult a qualified professional first.