(Second in two-part series)
Last week stability balls and medicine balls were featured as effective fitness tools which challenge your core, develop kinesthetic awareness, and improve power, stability, mobility and strength. Mini balls, self-myofascial release balls and BOSU Ballast balls will be highlighted this week which add another dimension to training with balls. As we did previously, safety and effectiveness tips will be provided so that you experience all of the benefits that ball training may offer. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
While there are dvd's and other instructional videos on-line demonstrating use of these balls, it is an excellent idea to seek out a certified/qualified trainer specifically trained and experienced utilizing this type of training tool with a varied and diverse clientele. As mentioned last week, ball training is not for everyone.
Mini balls are smaller than a stability ball and lighter than a medicine ball. Consequently, the uses will be quite different. Mini balls are small, pliable balls approximately 8-12 inches in diameter which are utilized for many core exercises (i.e. supine reverse curls with the ball compressed between the feet/knees, supine flexion/extension/rotations; lateral flexion; plank variations, etc.). The ball creates stability challenge in some exercises, both for the core in general and a concentration on stabilization of the pelvis, and may improve range of motion increasing muscle engagement in others.
-Safety/Effectiveness - mini balls should be well inflated, cleaned and cared for following the manufacturer's instructions. Clients with cervical/lumbar spine/serious stability limitations may not be candidates for mini ball use.
Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) Balls
SMR balls are utilized for self-myofascial release. Similar to using a foam roller, these balls may provide a little more accessibility to certain body parts than a foam roller (i.e. use in addition to a foam roller). Ball sizes usually range from 6-8 inches; however, there are some smaller and larger. Some have small nodules on the surface of the ball to provide greater stimulation and some are harder, and less pliable to prevent crushing.
-Safety/Effectiveness - SMR balls should be well inflated, cleaned and cared for following the manufacturer's instructions. These balls are not for everyone (i.e. some with fibromyalgia may not be candidates) and do require instruction to utilize safely/effectively.
BOSU Ballast Ball
The BOSU Ballast ball is a unique ball which looks at first glance like any other stability ball. And, while it may be utilized as a stability ball due to the MDL material (i.e. sort of like sand), that is encapsulated within the ball creating greater load, these balls have many other uses. Many multi-planar exercises may be performed with the ball adding additional challenge for the core. Also, since the ball is weighted, when you put it down, it does not roll away.
-Safety/Effectiveness - BOSU Ballast balls should be well inflated, cleaned and cared for following the manufacturer's instructions. These balls require a different inflation mechanism than traditional stability balls, consequently, you will want to watch the set up dvd prior to attempting inflation or use. Since the balls are currently one size (i.e. approximately 55cm), some taller clients many not be able to sit on the ball due to the inappropriate hip/knee joint angle.
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness, LLC located in Grand Lake, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at www.neversummerfitness.com, her email at NSFGL@comcast.net , her blog at www.skyhidailynews.com and her Facebook page at Never Summer Fitness.