Benefits of Using an Exercise Ball

The exercise ball or 'Swiss ball' is nothing new in the world of fitness and rehabilitation. The first of its kind was developed in 1963 by Aquilino Cosani, an Italian plastics manufacturer, and was initially named the "Pezzi Ball".

Within a decade of its creation, the ball began to be used by physical therapists across Europe, including a Swiss physical therapist concerned with postural re-education and back rehabilitation. In the 1980s, American physical therapists became fascinated with European rehabilitations methods, and were so impressed with the Pezzi Ball that they brought it back with them to the United States and renamed it the 'Swiss Ball'.


What is An Exercise Ball?

Exercise balls, also known as Swiss balls, physio balls, balance balls, body balls, gym balls, Pezzi balls, Pilates balls, yoga balls, therapy balls and even Swedish balls all mean the exact same thing. They are used for rehabilitation and fitness, and work by forcing the body to balance against the ball's instability, leading to greater muscle activation. This results in improved back and spine health, core stability, posture and muscle balance.

In this blog we'll explain how exercise balls can help you, giving our top recommendations for the job:

Check out our Exercise Ball Size Chart for recommendations on the best ball size for you.


Exercise Balls Improve Back and Spine Health

Here at Health and Care, we're often asked "Is an exercise ball good for your back?"

As we know, exercise balls were invented for this very reason - so we have plenty for you to choose from. Exercise balls work by strengthening the core overall, stabilising the spine to reduce pain and discomfort, and providing excellent lumbar support. This in turn strengthens the back, helping to mobilise the body quickly and effectively.

Man balancing on swiss ball
Large Exercise Balls like the Original Theraband Exercise Ball make workouts even more challenging


The Best Exercise Ball for Back and Spine Health

The key to a great back and spine exercise ball is its size and overall quality. We recommend the Original Theraband Exercise Ball (75cm Blue) for the perfect rehabilitation of sore, weak back muscles.

Original TheraBand Exercise Balls

Why We Love It...

75cm ball is the perfect size for back and spine-focused exercises
Strong and sturdy materials make this a hardwearing product
 Easy to inflate, stays allowing customised pressure

Ideal For...

 People with sore backs and spines
Lower body injury and surgery recovery
Increasing flexibility and range of motion

Customer Verdict: "Well made exercise ball. Very strong and easy to inflate. Have bought cheaper versions in the past but they all "stretch" and are then useless. This was recommended by my physio and lives up to her recommendation. Service was very good and item was delivered quickly and well packed." John ★★★★★

Our Exercise Recommendation: This particular exercise ball can be used in a number of different exercises, but is best to mobilise and realign the spine. To get the most out of your exercise ball, we recommend stretching your back flat against it, with your abdomen facing upwards, either staying still or while rocking back and forth. While a basic exercise, this provides instant relief from aches and pains to increase overall mobility.


Exercise Balls Improve Core Stability

There's a reason why the Swiss ball is also called a gym ball, Pilates ball or yoga ball. Maintaining core strength is extremely important, as these are the muscles in your body that stabilise and support all your movements.

The three muscle groups in your midsection are:

  • Deep abdominal muscles (Transverse Abdominus)
  • Back muscles that support the lumbar spine (Tultifidus)
  • Lower back muscles that maintain spinal and pelvic balance (Quadratus Lumborum)

Training with an exercise ball, whether during Pilates, yoga or simple stretching exercises, is an excellent way to work this group of hard-to-reach, deep muscles.


The Best Exercise Ball for Core Stability

The Pilates-Mad Exer-Soft Ball offers lightweight, portable core strengthening whenever you need it. The uneven surface forces the core to remain completely engaged, while also activating the rest of the body's muscles, giving you a killer workout. 

Pilates-Mad Exer-Soft Ball

Why We Love It...

 Lightweight design allows users to focus on core strength
Isolates specific muscles, can be used for a range of exercises
 Versatile ball can be used in a variety of exercises

Ideal For...

 Strengthening the core and abdomen
Targeting weaker areas of the body
Strength, endurance, concentration and coordination

Customer Verdict: "I’m very pleased with my purchase. I use the ball for shoulder exercises. Good quality and value for money. Excellent free postal service from Health and Care - parcel arrived the next day!" Rosemary ★★★★★

Our Exercise Recommendation: Just sitting on the ball activates the stabiliser muscles and helps you connect with your centre of gravity. To further engage your core muscles, move your core farther away from the body, where maintaining your balance becomes a bit more difficult. Great examples of more advanced ball exercises include planking, push-ups, squats and abdominal crunches.


Exercise Balls Improve Balance

If you don't know what you're doing in the gym, muscle imbalance can occur more quickly than you would imagine. Muscles need to work together to perform certain tasks, which is why muscle imbalance can lead to bad posture, pain and a multitude of injuries. A common imbalance occurs between anterior (front) and posterior (back) muscles, partially due to natural everyday activities that engage your front more than your back, but partially also because people tend to train their abs and neglect their back.

This is often the main cause of lower back pain and discomfort. Swiss ball exercises engage your whole core, as the ball supports the lower back and other posterior muscles during training.

man on wobble board
Stability cushions like the Fitness-Mad Air Dome Pro 2 increase endurance and balance


The Best Exercise Ball For Balance

The BOSU Balance Trainer Pro Home Package mimics the effects of an exercise ball, forcing you to engage the deeper core muscles. Simply stand, sit, kneel or prop one leg up onto the flat or round side of the disc, and watch your balance skyrocket with use.

BOSU Balance Trainer Pro Home Package

Why We Love It...

 Hybrid exercise ball and stability board improves balance
Usable for almost any bodyweight exercise on the gym floor
 Intensity can be controlled to adjust challenge of exercises 

Ideal For...

 People wanting to customise their workout intensity
 Fitness and rehabilitation focusing on balance improvement
 Use when sitting, kneeling and standing, with a versatile design 

Supplier Guarantee: "The BOSU Balance Trainer Pro Home Package is the perfect option for people wanting to up their workout intensity. The latex-free blue surface is ductile and impact-resistant, while the black side is slip-free, allowing users to utilise both sides of the board for diverse range of use."

Our Exercise Recommendation: Strengthening your core goes hand in hand with muscle balance, so the best exercises for muscle balance are the ones that will help you strengthen your core as well. Advanced users can attempt abdominal crunches, push-ups, squats, bridges and planking.


Exercise Balls Improve Posture

The wonderful side effect of strengthening your core and ensuring muscle balance is having a healthy posture. Regularly exercising with the ball helps you maintain the natural curve of your spine, which helps you to keep from arching your back and protect the spine.

Our next product helps users to establish brilliant posture through realignment of the spine, and is ideal as an alternative to a chair for proper spinal alignment.

Sissel Exercise Ball Stabiliser
The Sissel Exercise Ball Stabiliser can be used to ease stiffness and pain when working from home


The Best Exercise Ball For Posture

The Sissel Exercise Ball Stabiliser provides the ideal lumbar positioning for you when working from home or in the office (if you're feeling particularly confident)! Simply pop it underneath your exercise ball and use it as a chair for superior comfort, posture, and bodily alignment.

Sissel Exercise Ball Stabiliser

Why We Love It...

 Corrects spinal alignment for ideal lumbar support
Engages the lower back, abs and pelvic muscles
 Significantly improves balance and stability

Ideal For...

 People wanting to increase their movement while working
 Core engagement and endurance
 People experiencing stiffness when sitting for extended periods

Supplier Guarantee: "Made from recycled plastic, this stabiliser is perfect for a range of uses - including as a stabiliser for a pregnancy ball and to secure an exercise ball as a chair. It can also be split into four different parts for easy transportability or storage, making it super simple to use."

Our Exercise Recommendation: Just sitting on the ball activates the stabiliser muscles and helps you connect with your centre of gravity. To further engage your core muscles, move your core farther away from the body, where maintaining your balance becomes a bit more difficult. Great examples of more advanced ball exercises include planking, push-ups, squats and abdominal crunches.


Small Exercise Balls and Their Benefits

Small or 'mini' exercise balls work by creating instability, which forces the rest of the body to overcompensate by activating a number of muscle groups. As a result, they have a number of great benefits:

  • Challenge the core
  • Increase coordination
  • Improve balance
  • Enhance stability

Being small and easy to move, they can also be used for an additional challenge in a number of different workouts, including:

  • Upper Body Workouts, using the exercise balls to do crunches
  • Lower Body Workouts, using the exercise balls with pull-ups
  • Core Workouts, using the ball to balance the core 
  • Flexibility Workouts, using the ball to stretch tight body parts
  • Coordination Workouts, passing the ball from left to right
  • Yoga, Pilates and Barre, using the ball to improve range of movement

The Best Small Exercise Balls

Gymnic Overball Mini Therapy Ball

Gymnic Overball Mini Therapy Ball

  • Versatile therapy ball ideal for various workouts
  • Soft easy-grip texture makes the ball easy to hold
  • Great for enhancing resistance training for therapy and fitness
  • Small 23cm diameter suitable for most individuals
In stock now
£12.99
plus FREE UK deliveryFull details
Pilates-Mad Exer-Soft Ball

Pilates-Mad Exer-Soft Ball

(1)
  • Non-slip, tactile training aid to improve your fitness
  • Designed to assist in isolating and targeting specific muscles
  • Helps to improve strength, endurance, concentration and coordination
  • Available in three different diameters and three corresponding colours
In stock now
From  £9.99
plus FREE UK deliveryFull details

Sissel Soft Pilates Ball

(1)
  • Soft exercise ball for Pilates
  • Complements Pilates and yoga exercises
  • Aids spinal and abdominal exercises
  • Available in two sizes
Available
£17.99
plus FREE UK deliveryFull details

Large Exercise Balls and Their Benefits

Large exercise balls help to make standard workouts even more challenging. While obviously less portable than small or mini exercise balls, they predominantly work by challenging the body's core strength and balance. In doing so, they have various benefits on the body:

  • Strengthen the back and ab muscles
  • Improve core stability and balance
  • Ensure proper body alignment 
  • Reduce stiffness
  • Lessen fatigue

While larger and therefore less lightweight, they can add a good challenge to different workouts:

  • Upper Body Workouts, using the ball to do a jackknife
  • Lower Body Workouts, using the ball to do Bulgarian split squats
  • Core Workouts, using the ball to do bedbugs or a v-pass
  • Strength Workouts, using the ball to do a decline push up
  • Flexibility Workouts, using the ball to do a whole body stretch

The Best Large Exercise Balls

Original TheraBand Exercise Balls

(5)
  • Inflatable exercise balls ideal for gym exercises
  • Versatile design for improving posture and muscles
  • Durable design made for long term use
  • Available in four sizes to suit your height
In stock now
From  £22.99
plus FREE UK deliveryFull details

Fitness-Mad 150kg Swiss Ball and Pump

  • Anti-burst Swiss ball with 150kg load rating
  • Ideal for yoga, Pilates or physiotherapy
  • Comes with pump for quick and easy inflation
  • Available to buy in 55cm, 65cm or 75cm diameter
In stock now
From  £19.99
plus FREE UK deliveryFull details
Fitness-Mad Studio Pro 500kg Swiss Ball

Fitness-Mad Studio Pro 500kg Swiss Ball

  • Ideal for gym, club and studio use
  • Factory tested as burst resistant for loads up to 500kg
  • Suitable for use during weight training exercises
  • Available in three different diameters
In stock now
From  £21.99
plus FREE UK deliveryFull details

Finding Your Ideal Exercise Ball

Most exercise balls are very similar, and selecting the right ball for you is simple. All you need to pay attention to is its size (a properly sized ball should allow you to sit on it with your knees and hip at 90 degrees). By consulting the table below, you should be able to find the right sized ball for your height in no time.

Ball Size Ball Height Your Height
Small 45cm (18") Up to 4'10" (145cm)
Medium 55cm (22") 4'8" to 5'5" (140 - 165cm)
Large 65cm (26") 5'6" to 6'0" (165 - 185cm)
Extra Large 75cm (30") 6'0" to 6'5" (185 - 195cm)
XX-Large 85cm (33") Over 6'5" (195cm)

Endless Benefits

An exercise ball is an inexpensive, highly practical piece of equipment anyone can incorporate into their exercise routine. Whether you are a seasoned gym rat or a complete beginner, your body will thank you if you do so.

Do you have any experience with using an exercise ball? Share your thoughts in the comments below or find us on Twitter and Facebook!

Tags: Fitness, ExerciseGeneral Health, Physiotherapy

Original TheraBand Exercise Balls

(5)
  • Inflatable exercise balls ideal for gym exercises
  • Versatile design for improving posture and muscles
  • Durable design made for long term use
  • Available in four sizes to suit your height
In stock now
From  £22.99
plus FREE UK deliveryFull details
Pilates-Mad Exer-Soft Ball

Pilates-Mad Exer-Soft Ball

(1)
  • Non-slip, tactile training aid to improve your fitness
  • Designed to assist in isolating and targeting specific muscles
  • Helps to improve strength, endurance, concentration and coordination
  • Available in three different diameters and three corresponding colours
In stock now
From  £9.99
plus FREE UK deliveryFull details

Fitness-Mad Air Dome Pro 2

  • Use as a wobble board or "half" Swiss ball/stability cushion
  • Can be used for almost any bodyweight exercise performed on a step/floor
  • Adds an extra level of intensity to your exercises
  • Resistance tubes can be clipped through eyelets
Dispatched in 8-10 days
£94.99
plus FREE UK deliveryFull details

Sissel Exercise Ball Stabiliser

  • Stabiliser base to stop your exercise ball from rolling
  • Allows you to store your ball or use it as a chair
  • Provides feeling of security when sitting or working out
  • Compatible with all exercise balls
Available
£33.29
plus FREE UK deliveryFull details