Incorporating an exercise ball into workouts can benefit athletes, people rehabilitating injured or weak core muscles, as well as people who want to ease back into fitness activities. In addition to this, exercise ball workouts can also help to increase flexibility and bodily proprioception.

While the benefits of exercise ball workouts are vast, it’s important that individuals find an exercise ball routine that matches their fitness level, overall health and prior injuries. Individuals who are concerned about exacerbating existing injuries or weaknesses may want to consult with a personal trainer or fitness professional prior to beginning a new workout regimen. Similarly, people easing back into fitness activities may benefit from beginning with a slightly deflated ball, as this provides a slightly more stable platform for the body.

See Advanced Exercise Ball Program for Runners and Athletes

First, Sit on the Exercise Ball for 30 Minutes

Before undertaking a more rigorous workout, exercise ball users should be able to maintain balance while sitting upright on an exercise ball for at least 30 minutes. This activity alone can help increase both core muscle strength and proprioception, or awareness of where each part of the body is in space relative to the rest of the body, quickly.

See Simple Exercises to Restore Proprioception and Advanced Exercises to Restore Proprioception

Once an individual has developed the ability to sit on an exercise ball for half an hour, he or she is ready to move on to exercise ball routines.


Next, Find a Neutral Position

This basic exercise ball routine focuses on finding a neutral position on the ball, which provides a solid foundation for improving posture and core strength.

  • To start, slouch downward slightly on the exercise ball, leaning the head and neck forward and rounding both the lower and upper back.
  • Begin bouncing lightly on the exercise ball in this slouched/rounded position.
  • While bouncing, gradually allow the body to return to a straightened, upright posture, which promotes posture, core strength, and improved balance.

The purpose of this preliminary routine is to establish a center of gravity, a position in which the upper body is balanced on a stable pelvic base. When the body deviates from this neutral position, an individual must change position slightly to reestablish a center of gravity. This process is known as a correction. In this preliminary workout, an individual is using the stomach muscles to maintain a neutral posture and center of gravity.

Engaging in this preliminary workout regularly will help to strengthen the core - abdominal and back - muscles, which will pave the way for more challenging workouts.

Dr. Michael F. Duffy is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon working with the Texas Back Institute. He completed his undergraduate work at Georgetown University before going on to earn his M.D. at the University of Nebraska, and also fulfilled a residency with Orlando Regional Healthcare before arriving at Texas Back Institute for his fellowship. He has been in private practice for over 6 years with Texas Back Institute.