Exercise balls belong in gyms AND PHYSICAL THERAPY CLINICS, not the workplace!
Rarely a week goes by without a client wanting to know my opinion on sitting on stability balls at work. Many workers swear by them, noting that their lower back pain has decreased and some strongly believe that they’ve developed a stronger core from doing so.
Studies have shown there’s no advantage of sitting on a stability ball longer than 30 minutes
Unsupported back postures (i.e.: no back support/exercise ball) has been shown to negatively affect back pain.
Not only does the ball offer no upper or lower back support but fatigue can set in easily without the option of using armrests. This leads to upper back discomfort, sometimes even radiating into the forearms and wrists.
Read UC Davis fact sheet – Stability Balls vs Office Chairs
Insurance experts say they advise employers to write policies banning exercise balls from the workplace
And we haven’t even touched on “safety”. Although most of us like to think we could never really get hurt by using an exercise ball as a chair, stranger things have happened. There’s always that slim chance you could fall off or even trip over it when not paying close attention. There are many companies that won’t even allow employees to bring one close to the office as they don’t want the liability.
What if you have an exercise ball at home?
For those of you at home who have an exercise ball rolling around the house, it isn’t necessarily detrimental to use it intermittently (perhaps up to an hour a day). When you’re ready to return to the comfort of your ergonomic chair, sit at the back against the back rest. In other words, move your chair closer to the desk, not your body.
What about “Ball chairs” or “Accessories” that help keep the ball from rolling away?
Ball chairs are not much better. they still lack the essential function of which a chair provides, the lack of good lumbar support.
So,in conclusion, leave your exercise balls to your workouts at the gym!
Besides developing good muscle tone for your entire body, the stabilization ball a.k.a. Swiss ball, is a perfect way to rehabilitate after an injury. You can sit on it, put it behind you and roll down the wall for a great “assisted squat”, heck you can even lay on it and get a great workout. My favorite use of the Swiss ball is to assist in getting the maximum stretch. Whatever workout or rehabilitation you choose, there are benefits to incorporating the “exercise ball”.