Lately everyone has been swapping their work chair for the gym ball. In the UK and the US there was a wave of chairs being replaced by exercise balls a few years back and now they are moving towards standing desks. India too is catching up with this trend. The gym ball is also called a physio ball or a stability ball. It is used in gyms, physiotherapy clinics, and home gyms for various fitness and rehab exercises.
In theory there are many benefits of using the gym ball to sit on at work. I know many patients who use it and like it. I too am currently using an ergo ball chair which is a stability ball mounted on a chair.
The stability ball does have some scientific benefits over sitting in a chair all day. It forces you to sit in a better posture, activates the deep abdominal muscles of the core, and increases your sense of balance and proprioception. However, using a ball at work may not be for everyone. Prolonged use can bring its own set of issues.
Firstly a transition from sitting in a chair all day to sitting on a stability ball all day is a drastic change; one that your body may not be prepared to handle; the core and leg muscles may fatigue fairly quickly leading to pain. Secondly, our bodies are not meant to do anything for a prolonged period of time whether it is sitting on a ball or sitting in a chair. Our bodies are designed to move which can be easily achieved by taking enough stand/walk breaks while using a regular office chair.
Lastly but most importantly, even though the stability ball can be deemed more ergonomic, it may not be. While sitting on a ball helps you sit up straight, it does not support your arms like your chair does; it may not position your hips and knees at optimum angles as per ergonomic requirements. Hence, itâ€™s a great option to take your ball to work; however using it consistently may prove more difficult than you think.
For those who do want to try the gym ball at work hereâ€™s how to make sure you transition easier and avoid any pain issues.
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