25 Aug Should you swap your office chair for a fitball?
Do you spend hours sitting at a desk? Thinking of switching your office chair for a fitball? Well, there’s a few things you should consider before making the switch.
Many people are opting to sit on a ball while at their desk, on the premise it’s better for them. This may be the case, but there are several factors that you need to think about to avoid injury or risk making your posture worse. Here’s how to make sure you’re doing the right thing for your body…
Checklist for purchasing a fitball
Make sure it’s burst resistant
This will ensure if the ball gets a puncture in it, it will deflate slowly enough that you have time to get off it and don’t end up on the floor unexpectedly.
Make sure it’s the right material
The material should be heavy-duty enough that when you have pumped the ball to its correct size, it will not depress or flatten out more than one to five centimetres, when you sit on it.
Find the right size fitball
To choose a ball that is the right size for you, your hips should be 2-3 centimetres higher than your knees when you are sitting on the ball.
Once you have purchased the correct size and type of ball, you should inflate it to ninety-to-ninety five percent of its recommended size. A good quality ball will maintain its spherical shape and small base of support with load on it.
How to sit on a fitball correctly
When sitting on the ball, you need to ensure you are sitting towards the top and slightly toward the back of the ball. This will help you to adjust the position of your pelvis, simply by tilting it slightly, to ensure your pelvis, and therefore your spine, are in correct alignment.
To tilt your pelvis: simply roll the ball under you forwards and backwards until you have found that ideal position for your pelvis to be in neutral. The movement will not need to be much. Once your pelvis is in neutral, your spine has a much better chance of staying in neutral; it will be much easier to sit upright through the entire length of your spine. This leads to many benefits including: enhanced posture, improved ability to get more oxygen in, subtle activation of the pelvic floor muscles, reduced risk of pain in the shoulders, neck and back.
Make the change gradually
When you plan to sit on a ball for work, be aware that your neuromuscular system is working all the time to help you stay upright and balanced. This can be very fatiguing on your nervous system. Therefore, it is recommended to “introduce” your body to this activity before you go head-long into sitting all day on the ball.
Try to sit for an hour on the ball, then move back to your usual chair for an hour. Then move back to the ball again. Once you have done this for a few days, try increasing the duration of sit-time on the ball by fifteen minutes and reducing the sit time on the chair by fifteen minutes. Gradually increase the sit time on the ball each week and reduce the sit time on the chair until you can sit on the ball for the entire duration.
A fitball doesn’t guarantee good posture
It’s important to consider that sitting on a ball does not guarantee that you sit upright. It is possible to slouch when sitting on a ball. If you do slouch, the only real benefit you are gaining is the subtle activation of your pelvic floor muscles. Your spine is no better off than sitting on a solid, stable surface.
It’s important to keep actively working on your posture and there’s plenty of great exercises you can do to help. Alternatively, you can chat to an accredited exercise professional to help keep you strong and moving safely. Click here to find one near you.
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Written Kerri Haines, Accredited Exercise Physiologist