Wright: Get on the ball!
The Fitness Trail
The stability ball is an excellent fitness tool that is versatile and inexpensive. There are literally hundreds of exercises that may be performed on the ball. Due to the unstable nature of the stability ball, it enables us to challenge the entire “nose to toes” core as well as to isolate specific aspects of the corset core muscles.
This week, three excellent exercises for the stability ball will be highlighted: the knee tuck, lateral torso flexion and the plank. These three are specifically designed to challenge the “nose to toes” core, not just the corset core muscles that surround the spine. In order to perform these exercises, the entire shoulder girdle must be capable of supporting body weight both during movement and static postures. Prior to integrating these exercises into your exercise program, or beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
*Choosing the right size stability ball depends entirely on how it will be used. If you are going to sit or lie on it, generally the taller/larger the individual, the bigger the ball. Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions, where applicable, of these exercises, two-three times/week on non-consecutive days. Before beginning each set, remember to keep the head/neck in neutral, shoulders rotated back/down, rib cage lifted, navel imprinted on the spine, pelvic floor pulled up/inward.
• Knee Tucks – trains the entire “nose to toes” core. Begin kneeling on the floor with the ball directly in front of you and your abdomen resting on the ball. Roll out until your thighs are on the ball and your hands are directly under your shoulders, forming a perfect plank position from the top of the head to the heels. Engaging from the rib cage to the hip bone, draw the knees under the hips, so that the tailbone faces the ceiling and the pubic bone is aiming for your sternum. Then, controlling the extension, return to the beginning plank position. *Do not roll back beyond the plank, use momentum to tuck up or return to plank. Avoid dropping the knees down, keep the hips lifted throughout the tuck.
• Lateral Flexion – kneeling next to a wall, facing sideways, with your top foot resting on the baseboard and the bottom knee resting on the floor, lie over the ball with the bottom side of your torso, bottom arm over the ball, but located about mid-ball, arm flexed, extend the top leg out so it is fully extended, which pushes you away from the wall and the top fingers on the top ear. Engaging the lateral flexors of your torso (think base of rib cage to top of hip bone), lift the body up laterally as though you are sliding your rib cage into your side pockets. Head/neck in neutral, bottom arm must fully extend, but refrain from pushing with that arm. Lower back down and then repeat on the opposite side.
• Plank – begin kneeling on the floor with the elbows on top of the ball. Keep the ball stable, tuck your toes under, and lift your knees off the floor holding a plank position. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat 2-3x. You may perform this plank modified with the knees down; however, the body must still be a straight line from top of the head to the tailbone!
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Mountain Life Fitness, LLC located in Granby, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at http://www.mtnlifefitness.com, her email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and her Facebook page at Mountain Life Fitness.
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