If you suffer from a sore or stiff back due to a pinched nerve, poor posture or long hours of sitting at desk, there are several ways that you can stretch out your back and relieve some of your pain. One simple solution is to use a stability ball. (Sometimes referred to as a fitness ball, swiss ball or gym ball).
These exercise balls cost very little compared to exercise equipment, usually priced at under $20. You can find them at most gyms, where they are used for strength training workouts. Plus, some people even use them as chairs when sitting at a desk.
You can also use them for lower back pain stretches. Plus, core-strengthening exercises which can also relieve and prevent future back pain. You can use them daily or multiple times a day if you need an additional stretch due to their gentle “nature”.
With this versatile exercise tool, you can get some of the without having to fully invert on an inversion table. The ball makes a great alternative for people who do not want to or who cannot use an inversion table.
Lower Back Stretching Routine on a Stability Ball:
Check out this very basic introduction by fitness trainer Sam Strain on stability ball back exercises.
Back exercises on stability ball
The gym ball allows the movements to be fluid and gentle, so you can ease into the exercises without putting additional strain on your back. If you use a fitness ball at your desk or at the office, you can perform many of these movements while you are working.
In addition, you can perform your lower back exercises while watching TV. Or, listening to a radio show, an audio book or even meditation music. Stability balls give you a great stretching routine when you first get out of the bed in the morning. On the other hand, you can lay on them as a way to relax before going to bed at night.
Dr. Jesse Broderson and Dr. Shannon Hogan of Malama Chiropractic demonstrate some more techniques that you can use to stretch out your back and release pressure and stiffness. As you’ll see, these stretches for the lower back incorporate inverted and side-to-side movements.
Buying the Right Size of Stability Ball:
Not all fitness balls are the same. There have different sizes, and the right size for you will depend on your height. You will notice this when you shop and see a variety of different size options.
So, how do you choose the right size?
You want your knees to bend at a 90 degree ankle when sitting on your ball. Larger balls are designed for taller people, and a medium-sized stability ball measures about 65cm.
I’ll use myself as an example here. I am 5’8″ tall, and I use a 65cm ball. If I measure 65cm (or 25 1/2 inches) from the bottom of foot while standing, the tape measure reaches mid thigh.
Keep in mind that measurements don’t need to match exactly. Since fitness balls inflate, you can adjust the inflation level to the proper size you need. Along those lines, be aware that over time and with regular use, your fitness ball may occasionally require additional air to maintain it’s proper size.
How to Stretch Your Lower Back with Fitness Ball Workouts:
Once you have a fitness ball, you can use it to strengthen your core and lower back muscles in addition to your stretching routine. Plus, lower back workouts can help relieve back pain similar to stretching.
Do you suffer from chronic back pain? Then, many physical therapists and chiropractors will suggest that you start a back and core strengthening routine to fix the problem and prevent pain from coming back. A fitness ball provides a healthy option, as well as yoga and other back exercises you can do at home.
The 30-minute exercise video below shows how you can incorporate stretching and strengthening movements using a stability ball. You can even get a full-body workout at the same time!