A stability ball is an exercise tool, and like all tools must be used properly for safety reasons and to get the most out of it. Proper use also means it should not be overused. Even if you've never used a stability ball, it can be an effective adjunct to training when used correctly. Although the stability ball is promoted as a gentle workout tool, certain people should avoid using it. Consult a physician before beginning any new diet or exercise program.
Reasons to Avoid Stability Balls
If you are new to resistance training, do not use a stability ball. You will be busy learning lifting skills and proper form, so don't make it harder for yourself by trying to balance at the same time. If you have a joint injury of any sort or muscular strain, you should also avoid stability balls because your body has enough stress to deal with. While pictures of people standing on stability balls might appear on the Internet, do not ever do this unless you plan on joining the circus. Don't risk falling while training.
If the use of a stability ball compromises exercise performance, you should avoid using it as well. No leg exercises should ever be performed on a stability ball. If you have to contort yourself into a strange or awkward position, this is a sign that you are doing something wrong and can cause serious injury to your back. While stability balls have certain uses, you should never use one when performing pull downs or any other exercise that requires you to be firmly anchored in place.
If you are trying to develop strength and power, avoid stability balls. The use of a stability ball in place of a bench decreases power output when benching pressing. If your goal is to build muscle, avoid stability balls. The effort of balancing reduces the activation and recruitment of the muscles you are trying to exercise, which means you will not stress them as heavily. Even exercises that can safely be performed on a stability ball such as a dumbbell press become less effective exercises.
Stability Ball Uses
Stability balls are not useless, but they are most effectively used in the rehabilitation protocols that they were designed for. A program designed to help you compensate for some sort of balance issue or neuro-muscular dysfunction should only be performed under the guidance of a physician. A stability ball can be used to get a greater range of motion on abdominal exercises, and outside of rehabilitation work, this is the best use for this tool.
- "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research"; Relationship Between Core Stability, Functional Movement, and Performance; T. Okada, et al., January 2011
- "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research"; Muscular Outputs During Dynamic Bench Press Under Stable Versus Unstable Conditions; S. Koshida, et al., September 2008
- "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research"; Muscle Activation Patterns While Lifting Stable and Unstable Loads on Stable and Unstable Surfaces; J. M. Kohler, et al., February 2010
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.