Once an individual has established a neutral position and has gained the ability to sit on an exercise ball for at least thirty minutes, they have established the physical baseline necessary to move into simple exercise ball routines. Regular workouts with an exercise ball can help to improve physical conditioning and reduce the likelihood of athletic injury. Adopting one or more of the following routines on a regular basis can help offset the negative effects of poor lifting techniques, bad posture, or inflexibility.

See also Advanced Exercise Ball Program for Runners and Athletes

Ergonomic lifting routine

Many people use poor lifting techniques in their daily lives and/or their exercise routines that can result in injury. The following set of exercises can help train the body to lift using the strength of the hips and legs, rather than the back.

  • While standing, place the exercise ball against a wall. Keep the ball in place against the wall by leaning the small of the back against the ball.
  • Keep the feet firmly planted on the floor, placed shoulder-width apart and 12 to 18 inches out in front of the body.
  • Place the hands on the hips and bend the knees slightly. Once in position, squat down halfway to the floor. Keep enough pressure on the exercise ball for it to remain suspended in place on the wall, while allowing it to roll while the body moves up and down. The bent knees should not extend over the toes, even at the lowest point of the squat.
  • Return to standing.
  • Repeat the exercise at least 5 times. Advanced exercisers can do additional sets.
  • To increase the level of difficulty, hold the squat for an additional 10 seconds before rising.

To reduce the risk of injury, it is best to learn the correct technique for this exercise from a trained professional, such as a physical therapist or certified athletic trainer.


Active Sitting for Basic Core Strength

Active sitting capitalizes on the time in which an individual is already seated. By replacing an ordinary home or office chair with an exercise ball, anyone can incorporate 8 or 9 hours per day work of core-stability exercises.

Sitting on an exercise ball requires a nearly constant and continuous muscle response in order to stay balanced on it. This response will engage deep core muscles (the multifidus and transverse abdominus).


These core abdominal muscles help support the spine and the entire upper body. Strengthening these muscles can help stabilize the upper body.

Active sitting can benefit:

  • Sedentary people with weak core muscles
  • People recovering from certain types of surgery and/or injury
  • Athletes—especially athletes participating in sports that require deep core strength, such as runners, skaters, martial artists, skiers, and cyclists

Individuals should ensure that they are able to first complete the preliminary exercise ball workout described above before attempting active sitting. People may need to practice active sitting in short spurts, such as for 15 or 20 minutes, before attempting it for long periods of time.

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.