With so much talk these days about working your “core”, you may be wondering what good is a Core Exercise Ball Workout.
First, understand what the core actually is. The core includes the muscles in your body that stabilize and support all your movements.
Your core, or what people used to call your “midsection”, is made up of the deep abdominal and back muscles that work as stabilizers for your entire body. These muscles are the “deep” stabilizing muscles that, although you cannot see them, maintain the core stability in your body.
The exercise ball is a great tool for strengthening the core. A primary benefit of a Core Exercise Ball Workout, as opposed to exercising on a mat, is that your body responds to the instability of the ball to remain balanced, engaging many more muscles to do so. Those muscles become stronger over time to keep balance. Core strength is important because the muscles of the lower back and abdomen serve as a solid foundation for day-to-day activities, as well as posture and balance.
Use Your Exercise Ball as a Chair
This one is pretty easy. Try sitting on an Exercise Ball chair instead of a regular office chair. Office dwellers can replace their desk chair with a stability ball.
The constant adjustment and readjustment that your body makes on the ball will work your core muscles; even sitting at your desk. It feels good and can add a bit of fun to your workday!
Small Abdominal Curls
Position: Lie on your back with the ball under your knees, knees in line with hips. Be sure your neck is long and place your hands behind your head, with elbows wide.
Movement: Inhale to prepare and begin to drop your chin while your head is still on the mat. Exhale to lift your head, bending the upper body. Inhale and hold. Exhale to return your head to the mat. Repeat eight (8) times, slow and controlled.
Tip: When you inhale and hold, be sure your gaze is on your thighs, NOT on the ceiling. This keeps your head and neck in the proper position. Also, be sure your fingertips rest lightly behind your head, and you are not using your hands to pull your head up.
Position: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor, hip width apart. Hold your ball on your ribcage with both hands. Be sure to maintain lots of space between your feet and your bottom.
Movement: Inhale to prepare. Exhale to lift your head and bend your upper body as you roll the ball up your thighs, over your knees, and down to your shins. Inhale when the ball is at your ankles and begin to roll back, reversing the move you just did.
Exhale to continue releasing backward, rolling the ball over your body, and finally bringing your head back onto the mat. Repeat six (6) times, slow and controlled.
Tips: If your feet are too close to your bottom, it will hamper your ability to get the ball up and over your knees. Keep your abdomen hollowed out, and your shoulders down and back.
Single Leg Stretch
Position: Lie on your back, with your head and shoulders lifted off the mat.
Movement: Pull one knee to your chest as you stretch the other leg away from you. Reach the ball to the outside of the bent knee, then switch legs. Repeat for 10 counts on each side.
Modifications: You can also hold the ball in the air above you during the entire exercise, and/or keep your head down on the mat.
Tips: Stretch your legs long, creating length between your feet and hips. Keep eye gaze on your thighs, not the ceiling.
Position: Lie with your stomach on top of your core exercise ball, then walk out to a plank position with your thighs supported on the ball and your feet floating in the air. Hands are just wider than shoulders, fingertips parallel to your body.
Movement: Inhale to bend your arms, lowering your chest between your hands. Exhale to straighten your arms and press yourself up. Repeat 6-8 times.
Tips: Shoulder blades remain open across your back. Think of your body as one long line. Keep your abdominals connected to avoid swayback, and do not let your head drop, but keep it in line with your spine.