Before beginning an exercise program it is important to address muscle imbalances. The body can be compared to a vehicle tire regarding balance. When a tire is out of balance the tire will not hold the vehicle in alignment, it will swerve to one side until the tire eventually gives way. The same holds true of the human body, except that the body compensates more efficiently if a muscle becomes inhibited, thus posing posture issues.
Posture is dependent upon the strength of a muscle, but most importantly proper motor control. Thus, if a person has less than optimal posture or has been injured, the tonic muscle contracts and shortens, and the opposite muscle lengthens and weakens, thus an imbalance has occurred.
Balancing and Stretching exercises on a stability ball are a very beneficial means to balance
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strengthen, and stretch muscles, as they provoke your body to stabilize itself when placed on unstable surfaces, such as running, dancing, sports in general.
The following is a list of stability ball protocols to alleviate muscle imbalances, stabilize, and strengthen your muscles. If any of the muscles that you stretch do not feel tight, there is no need to perform that particular stretch. Therefore, move on to the following stretch. Perform stretches before implementing the Stability Ball workouts. All exercises are best performed in the order listed.
There is one function that must be addressed before initiating any stretching or exercise program, and that is breathing.
Rhythmic breathing is necessary to accomplish sport or exercise activities, optimally. Over time, if correct breathing strategies are not implemented, muscles, organs, and bodily alignment will be adversely affected.
Begin by laying flat on the floor with your feet on a stability ball, knees at a ninety degree angle.
Press your index fingers into your transverse abdominals, the lower abdominals.
Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, close your lips, don’t let your teeth touch.
Breathe deep from your abdominals, push your abdominals against your fingers, resisting the finger pressure inward.
Perform ten rhythmic breathing repetitions.
Middle Back and Abdominals Stretch
Place the stability ball on a yoga mat or a rigid surface.
Sit upright on the stability ball, then walk your legs out until your back is supported on the ball.
Extend your arms over your head, placing your hands on the floor if possible. If you feel courageous, you can extend your legs out.
Perform five stretches, and hold each stretch for sixty seconds.
Lower Trapezius and Rhomboid Stretch
Lower to your knees behind a Stability Ball and lean one elbow into the ball.
Cross the arm/hand to the opposite shoulder and lean into the ball.
Take a breath in and press the elbow into the ball, while drawing the shoulders in toward each other. Use the opposite arm to stabilize the ball.
Hold this stretch for five – seven seconds.
Stability Ball Quadricep Stretch
Begin this stretch in a “runner’s on your mark” stance. Place the quadricep to be stretched against the stability ball with ankle extended, foot toward the ceiling.
Raise up to a tall position. Place both hands on your pelvis for support.
Pull the abdominals in and flatten the back to get an optimal stretch on the quadricep.
Hold position for five – ten seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
Stability Ball Chest Stretch
Begin in an “all four’s” position. Place your hand and forearm on a stability ball, while supporting with the opposite hand and arm on the opposite side.
Maintain a parallel shoulder position, inhale, then drop the body toward the floor, while the shoulder is stretched on the stability ball for five – seven seconds.
Exhale and repeat the stretch three repetitions. If you have shoulder pain, refrain from performing this exercise.
Stability Ball Prone Jack Knife
Begin by laying prone on the stability ball and walking with your hands until your feet are the only body part on the ball.
Place your spine into a neutral position (flat back).
Bring the knees toward the floor, placing your hips and knees at a ninety degree angle. Keep the butt down at all times.
This exercise targets the lower abdominals, but is a total body exercise.
Perform three sets of ten – fifteen repetitions.
Stability Ball Forward Roll
Begin in a kneeling position in front of the ball, maintaining congruent shoulder and hip. Contract the abdominal muscles.
Roll the ball forward, moving arms and legs symmetrically.
Stop at the point where your back begins to arch, and pull the stability ball back to the starting position.
This exercise targets the upper abdominals. Perform three sets of ten repetitions.
Supine Lateral Ball Roll
This exercise is for strengthening the glute muscles, and is a functional exercise to help with motor control of glute extension.
Begin by laying on a stability ball with arms to the sides and glute raised so the body is level.
Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Move your feet while rolling with the ball to one side until you begin to lose alignment. Slowly move to the other side.
Perform eight repetitions each side, and hold for eight seconds each side.
Stability Ball Russian Twist
Begin by sitting on a stability ball, roll back until your back is supported by they ball.
Lift your glutes to align with your shoulders. Bring your arms up and place palms together, pointing toward the ceiling.
Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Rotate your arms from side to side. This exercise targets entire abdominal wall.
Perform ten – fifteen repetitions per side.
Stability Ball Push-up
Roll out on to a stability ball, placing yourself in a plank position to the point where just your feet are on the ball.
Place your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders as in a push-up position.
Maintain a neutral position by keeping your head and butt up at all times. Perform three sets of ten repetitions.
Stability Ball Lateral Flexion
Begin by sitting upright on a stability ball with your arms crossed over your chest.
Slowly rotate to one side while the feet remain flat on the floor, pushing one foot toward the wall to stabilize.
Slowly raise up to the starting position, and repeat on the other side.
This exercise strengthens the obliques.
Perform three sets of eight repetitions each side.
Stability Ball Oblique Twister
Roll out prone on a stability ball into a push-up position to the point where the feet are the only body part on the ball.
Position your feet on the lateral side of the ball, contract your abdominals and begin rolling your hips from side to side maintaining proper bodily alignment.
This exercise strengthens and tones the obliques. Perform three sets of ten each side.
Reverse Glute Lift
Roll out prone onto a stability ball and place hands on the floor.
Maintain neutral spine. Tighten the glutes and lift your hips to the ceiling as high as you can.
Hold for five seconds. Repeat fifteen times.
This exercise targets the glutes and back extensors.
Also check out these great Bosu ball exercises