You see large, colorful exercise balls lying around gyms, but what are they? They go by many names-Swiss balls, physioballs, stability balls, birth balls-and have even more uses. Physical therapists have used them for years to treat a variety of injuries, but now these oversized balls are showing up in fitness centers, birthing centers, and even many households. They're versatile tools for exercise and useful during birth. So how can they benefit you?
Using stability balls during exercise is quite simple. Here's an easy example. Stand up with your feet wide apart. Pretty easy, right? The wider your base is when standing, the more grounded you are. Now bring your feet completely together. Still simple, but a little harder to hold your body still. Now lift one foot off the ground. This is a lot harder because you have to balance yourself. Your muscles in your legs have to work harder. Your foot is probably shaking back and forth a bit to keep your body upright. Your entire core-your abs, obliques, lower back, and hips-are working overtime.
These are endurance muscles (they work for long periods of time throughout the day) that help you balance. Any time you are walking while carrying a heavy bag, any time you lift up to your tiptoes to get something off a top shelf, any time you bend over to pick up a child- your core muscles are there supporting you so that you don't fall over.