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Many people think that stability ball exercises target only the abdominal muscles, also known as the core. In fact, the best stability ball exercises can challenge and tighten not only the core, but also the arms, buttocks, back, shoulders, and thighs. As an added benefit, many of these exercises can improve one’s sense of balance. Among the best stability ball exercises are the crunch, the push-up, the squat, and the walk-out.
Those attempting these stability ball exercises for the first time should begin by performing five repetitions of each move. As a move becomes easier to perform, repetitions should gradually be increased to ten and then 15. It should also be noted that exercises performed on a stability ball which is fully inflated will be more challenging than those performed on a softer ball.
A classic crunch is especially challenging to the core and back when it is done on a stability ball. To perform this move, lie face-up on the ball with the feet flat on the floor and the fingers placed loosely behind the ears. Using the abdominal muscles, slowly raise the upper body slightly, hold, and then return to the starting position. Avoid using the neck to lift the body, as this can result in injury.
Stability ball push-ups not only tighten the arm and shoulder muscles, but also target the core while improving one’s balance. To perform this move, lie face-down with the ball beneath the midsection. Use the palms to “walk” forward until the ball is beneath the thighs. Now bend at the elbows, lowering the upper body toward the floor, holding briefly, and then returning to the starting position. Attempt to maintain a straight line from the spine through the neck and head, and avoid locking the elbows.
The squat is one of the best stability ball exercises for toning the thighs and buttocks. To perform this move, stand with the feet spread shoulder-width apart, and with the stability ball held between the back and a wall. Placing the hands at the hips, slowly “roll” the back down the ball, bending at the knees until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold briefly and return to the starting position.
Finally, the walk-out is an excellent move for tightening the core and greatly enhancing the balance. To perform this exercise, lie face-down with the ball beneath the midsection. Use the hands to slowly “walk” forward until the ball is beneath the ankles. Pause and then “walk” the hands back until the ball is beneath the midsection once more. Attempt at all times to avoid letting the ball slip to one side of the body.
@rundocuri- I have hip pain, and sitting on a stability ball while stretching my legs has helped a lot. Not only does the ball provide a soft, flexible surface for exercising, but it allows me to get the most movement out of my legs for the type of stretches I need to do to control my hip pain.
Stability ball exercises are also great for stretching your back muscles. Place this type of exercise ball behind your back and stretch over it using a from side to side movement. You can do several repetitions of different stretching motions, or simply stay in position over the ball for several minutes each day.
Over time, you will begin to feel your muscles in your back relax and become more flexible. As this happens, extending your exercise time or increasing the number of repetitions you do will help you advance your strength and muscle flexibility. These exercises are also great to do if you have back problems, though you should get the approval of your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
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