You know you love your stability ball when it becomes a functional part of your living room decor. You may even have one to replace your computer chair. My 6-month-old likes it better than the rocking chair for falling asleep.
As you master today’s exercises, the ball cobra and the glute squeeze, you will love your stability ball even more. Like most exercises on the stability ball, the two I’m featuring today require the entire body to stabilize itself. As a trainer, I use these exercises to teach total body awareness. Just because we are working the core or glutes doesn’t mean that the rest of the body gets to relax.
Control is key to both of today’s movements. No bouncing or fast movements are allowed. When directing total body awareness, the brain becomes a super multitasker. It moves some things and hold others still while controlling breathing and heart rate. If you see someone at the gym doing difficult stability ball work, they will have a blank stare in their eyes. That is because they are concentrating on what the body is doing. Each body part plays an important role.
The core is essential to performing today’s exercises. Since the body is positioned face down with the hips on the stability ball, the core plays a large stabilizing role. It prevents the ball from rolling from side to side during the exercise. It also keeps your back straight. You’ll know if your core isn’t tight because you tend to taste your last meal because of the pressure of your body against the ball. So keep that gut tight.
Hip position is important on the stability ball. Keep your hips neutral. Hips that are rotated toward the front or back can lead to back pain. Lock your hips and core together by squeezing the glutes and contracting the core. This makes a solid foundation for any movement.
Leg control also can make or break these exercises. In the glute squeezes, the legs need to remain hip width apart during the movement. They also serve as a counterbalance for the body as well as the general resistance for the glutes to lift. In the ball cobra, the legs serve as stability and assist in elevating the torso.
Arm position serves for stability in the glute squeezes and spinal alignment in the ball cobras. When exercises get difficult, the head tends to move forward or down. Maintaining a neutral head position will assist in keeping the spine straight.
Controlling the body can be tricky. Don’t be surprised if your body shakes when trying these exercises for the first time. The body needs time to learn and adapt. Take your time and teach your body the right way to move so you create correct patterns that translate into everyday movements.
After a while, these exercises will become easy. When that happens, don’t abandon them. You can always use them for warm-up and cool-down. You may even want to add them to a circuit as an active rest exercise.
Chris Huth is a Las Vegas trainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.