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According to a CDC survey, approximately one in four people in the United States sits at least 8 hours a day. Even more worrying: prolonged sitting has been linked to chronic problems such as back pain, sciatic nerve pain, depression, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.
Fitness and wellness professionals now praise a possible antidote to this modern lifestyle crisis: the yoga ball chair.
A yoga ball, also known as a stability ball or exercise ball, is often used during exercise to increase freedom of movement and improve balance. But with an increasing number of people sitting while working, the exercise ball has moved from the gym to the office.
It is not so clear whether this form of "active sitting" is effective ̵
Sitting on a yoga ball instead of a chair is said to improve posture and prevent and relieve back pain.
"To stay balanced and upright [on a yoga ball chair] you have to include the entire core," said Travis Gage, CPO of Fountain Orthotics and Prosthetics. "A yoga ball is supposed to activate all of your postural muscles – the deep muscles in your stomach, pelvis and back – which hold you together and ensure correct posture."
There are two case studies that support the idea that a yoga ball chair helps with back pain, but it is also when it comes to research.
Probably not, at least not more than an hour or two at a time. While sitting on a yoga ball in short strokes can lead to core training, there is not much evidence that it automatically improves posture.
"A yoga ball chair does not guarantee good posture," says Caitlin Reid. Holistic physiotherapist and wellness consultant at Aprivé Wellness. "You still have to think about how to sit."
In fact, a 2009 study found that after just one hour of sitting on a yoga ball at a desk, participants showed significant "spine shrinkage" ( in other cases) words, they slumped in her lower back).
"Unfortunately, I saw an almost worse posture on yoga ball chairs than on good desk chairs," says Reid. “This is because many people roll their coccyxes underneath and curve their shoulders forward and stretch their chin forward to compensate for the weight shift. This position looks like a floppy banana sitting on a ball. “
A small study from 2006 showed no difference in muscle activation between sitting on a yoga ball chair and sitting on a stool.
While yoga ball chairs cannot work at the desk all day, some groups of people can benefit from it. However, Reid still warns that it's best not to sit on a yoga ball for more than a few hours.
1. Pregnant women
According to Reid, pregnant women (especially in the second and early third trimester) may find yoga ball chairs helpful, since normal chairs can cause their bulge to press on the top of their legs and cause discomfort.
Sitting on a yoga ball, however, is not ideal for people of legal age, as the lack of lower back support can lead to back pain.
2. People after childbirth
Yoga ball chairs can also feel good for people who have given birth in the past 6 weeks, says Reid.
"If you've recently given birth to a child, release the ball slightly so that it is particularly spongy and feels soft and comfortable in your saddle region," she says. "In combination with recovery shorts, sitting on a yoga ball after birth can really contribute to the comfort and relaxation of the pelvic floor."
3. People dealing with hemorrhoids
While not addressing the cause of the hemorrhoids, sitting on a yoga ball instead of a normal chair can help alleviate the pain associated with the condition.
If you want to experiment with a yoga ball, be sure to follow these guidelines:
- Do not sit for more than 2 hours at a time. If you sit too long, your muscles will become tired and you may feel sore in the middle and lower back.
- Pump up. Inflate the ball so that you sit on it instead of sinking into it.
- Buy the right size for your body. “You need a ball that can keep your feet flat on the floor and bend your hips 90 degrees or more. You don't want your knees to sit higher than your hips, ”says Reid.
If you want to try using your yoga ball as a desk chair for an hour or two, you must set up your workstation so that you can maintain the correct posture. This could mean investing in a different height desk, external keyboard and mouse, or other new equipment.
For good desk position, Reid says that all of the following should be true:
- Your chin should be parallel to the floor when you look directly at your screen. Your neck shouldn't be bent up or down.
- Your elbows should be directly under your keyboard and your shoulders should be soft.
- Your knees should bend at a 90 degree angle.
- Your feet should be flat on the floor.
Whether you are pregnant, tall, small or just looking for something multifunctional, one of these yoga ball chairs is just the thing for you!
We ensured that we only included products with at least 500 ratings and an average rating of 4 stars.
Most suitable for pregnancy
Trideer Exercise Ball
Reviews: 4.5 stars
The extra thick anti-burst ball is ideal for pregnant women who are looking for a reliable alternative to an office chair. It is also ideal for people with sensitive skin as it is made of non-toxic PVC and is free of BPA and heavy metals.
One reviewer says, "This was a stroke of luck when you were pregnant, especially in the third trimester."
Best suited for people in larger bodies
SmarterLife exercise ball
Rating: 4.4 stars
This ball has an extremely high anti- Burst capacity of 2,200 pounds, so ideal for people with higher body weight. You won't pop this puppy.
One review said, "I've used this ball so many times since I bought it, and I'm just so happy with it. It really holds a lot of weight … I am not a small person, so it was a great thing to get a ball that I am not afraid to lose under my weight. “
Best for smaller people
PROMIC Exercise Ball
Rating: 4.4 stars
This ball is in sizes from 45 to 85 centimeters available. It has a non-slip design and thick walls made of professional rubber.
"It's perfect for my small size," says one reviewer. "I am 5 & # 39; 2" and I got the 45 cm ball. You have to be patient to inflate this ball, but trust me, it's worth it. “
Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair
Rating: 4.1 stars
This yoga ball chair is the ideal combination of exercise ball and Office chair. Use the ball and chair skeleton to sit at your desk, then easily remove the ball for exercise.
A review states: "Very comfortable and I love the 'multifunction'. Not only can you sit at my PC table, you can also do several exercises. LOVE IT and will recommend it. “
Best for tall people
Isokinetics Inc. Balance Exercise Ball Chair
Rating: 4.2 stars
This yoga ball chair is 2 cm larger than the standard height version. It also has many adjustable functions, including four leg height positions and four backrest positions.
A review states: “… I have had problems with my entire right side for years due to mild scoliosis, athletics, injuries and aging. I can honestly say that the pain in my right hip, lower back and hip flexors is reduced by 75 percent. “
Alexa Erickson is a California-based writer specializing in travel, beauty, health, wellness, and health. and lifestyle. Her work has been published in Reader & # 39; s Digest, Shape, Martha Stewart, Mindbodygreen, Real Simple and others. Follow her adventures @living_by_lex and read her blog livingbylex.com.