Yoga Ball Help

Overview

While you can actually do yoga with an exercise ball, usually known as yoga on the ball, “yoga ball” is also one of many generic terms to describe stability balls. These giant inflatable balls are used for stretching, strength training and stability training. Other names for yoga or stability balls include exercise balls, fitballs, physioballs, Pilates balls and Swiss balls.

History

Yoga balls were developed in Italy during the 1960s, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Dr. Susanne Klein-Vogelbach, a Swiss physical therapist, was the first to put yoga balls to use in rehabilitative therapy. Yoga balls were introduced in the United States in 1989.

Size

Using the correct size yoga ball will ensure proper alignment during exercises and stretching. While yoga balls are typically sized according to your height, this is only a general estimate. Actually sitting on the ball is the best way to gauge whether it fits you. If both your hips and knees bend at a 90-degree angle when you’re sitting on a properly inflated yoga ball, it’s the right size for you.

Safety

Always use a burst-proof or puncture-proof yoga ball. Burst-proof balls may be labeled as “SDS,” for slow-deflate system, or “ABS,” for anti-burst system. A burst-proof ball will deflate slowly if accidentally punctured, giving you a chance to get off the ball. A non-burst-proof ball may explode if punctured, dumping you unceremoniously on the floor with great potential for injury.

Weight Limits

Most yoga balls come rated with two different weight limits, which are usually marked directly on the ball. The static weight limit represents how much weight the yoga ball can support if subjected to only static, nonmoving stress. Yoga ball static limits will vary among brands but may reach well over a ton. A yoga ball’s dynamic weight limit, typically between 200 and 600 lbs., measures how much weight the ball can safely support when any sort of movement is involved, including using it for support when lifting heavy weights. This may also be labeled as the ball’s burst-proof weight limit.

Considerations

Northwestern Health Sciences University’s Healthy U recommends wearing long, fitted pants while working on a yoga ball; this helps keep your skin from sticking to the ball. Avoid working on a yoga ball in socks, as they may cause your feet to slip; instead, work out either barefoot or wearing shoes.

About this Author

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics at the University of Alaska Anchorage and contributes regularly to various online publications. Print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.