A stability ball is one of the few physical therapy tools that look more like a game than a device of torture, at least from the perspective of the patient. The balls come in a variety of colors and sizes and are likely to remind patients of toys from childhood. They can be a great introduction to physical therapy because they are less intimidating and the exercises can seem more fun. This is true for both adults and children, both can benefit from the use of a stability ball. As any health practitioner knows, success largely depends on attitude. Use the stability ball to improve your patient’s attitude and watch the results follow.
Therapy for Adults
It can be difficult for some patients to effectively strengthen their abdominal or back muscles due to injury. A stability ball can target both muscle groups with minimal impact. However, at first it is necessary that the individual be closely supervised until he or she becomes accustomed to the stability ball to prevent additional injury.
Stretching is another key benefit of a stability ball. Using the ball makes it much easier for many people to move into and out of stretching positions. Tightness can be a significant factor in the recovery of many patients and making the stretches easier to initiate can improve long term success.
Therapy for Children
Children love to play with stability balls. They come in a wide range of sizes, so there are options for pediatric therapy. In addition to the regular exercises that are also used with adults, the smaller balls can be used for coordination activities during occupational therapy, such as catching or kicking the ball while it is moving. Introducing children to physical or occupational therapy with what looks like a toy can be a great way to ease them into a new routine that may otherwise be intimidating.
Outside of Therapy
A balance ball can also be used as an office chair, either alone or with a chair frame. Sitting on the ball regularly will help build core and back strength and help improve posture which may help alleviate some back pain. If the ball is used in a frame it can easily be removed to be used with a regular exercise routine at home or in the office.
Unlike many other therapy aids, these are very easy to travel with and are relatively inexpensive. This means the patient can purchase a ball for home use and will be more inclined to take it with them if they travel.
How have your patients responded to their stability ball routines? Do they seem to enjoy them more and be open to the idea of using them outside of the office?