Upon first glance, a therapy or exercise ball may not look like something someone would have to put much thought into before purchasing. In order to get the most effective (and fun) ball for you or your child’s routine, however, it’s wise to take a few things into consideration before buying one.
Choosing The Right Size
It’s always best that you speak with a physical or occupational therapist for recommendations regarding any type of equipment issues, including therapy and exercise ball sizing. If a consultation isn’t possible, you can still make a well-educated choice by following these three guidelines:
1. With the user seated upright on the exercise ball, check that their feet are flat on the ground. Also, make sure that their weight is even distributed across the top of the ball.
2. Knees should be level or slightly lower than the pelvis. Ideally, this will create a 90-degree angle at both the hips and the knees with the user’s thighs parallel to the ground or pointing down slightly.
3. The ears, shoulder and pelvis of the user should be in a vertical line, with no leaning necessary to act as a counter balance to keep them on the ball. If the user is leaning, try having them bounce up and down a little. This should assist with the alignment.
If you’re looking for a quick general rule for determining the best size for an exercise ball, try this: Measure the distance from the user’s armpit to the middle finger tip. This measurement will give you a decent estimate of what the diameter of your ball should be.
A Note About Weight And Inflation
While height plays the biggest role in finding the best size for your exercise ball, it’s also important to take the user’s weight into consideration. A user whose weight-to-height ratio is higher than average will cause greater compression to the ball when they are seated. These users may want to buy the next step up in size in order to maintain the comfort and effectiveness provided by the 90-degree rule.
Adjusting the amount of air in the exercise or therapy balls can also help achieve the 90-degree rule. If the angles at the user’s hips and knees are much greater or less than 90-degree, the ball can be inflated or deflated a bit to compensate. Just be mindful of how much air pressure is lost or gained. Too little air in the ball can make stabilizing and balancing exercises too easy and less effective; too much air pressure could make these exercises too difficult.
Consider The Needs Of The User
There are plenty of therapy and exercise balls out on the market today. Some are very basic items that provide balance training, strengthening and proprioceptive activities to the user. Others provide the additional benefits stability, comfort and tactile stimulation those whose needs require them.
Take a moment to speak with a therapist about what would be best before purchasing. If the user is already involved in a therapy program that uses one, you might consider buying a matching therapy or exercise ball to provide consistency.
Having A Ball
The right kind of therapy or exercise ball can provide so many benefits to you or your child’s physical therapy exercises. When used effectively, they can assist with the development and building of gross motor skills, bilateral coordination, core muscle strength, postural stability and so much more. By taking the time to choose the right size and type of exercise or therapy ball, you’re committing to getting the most out of it each time you use it.
At eSpecial Needs, we’re also committed to making sure you get the best therapy and rehabilitation equipment you need, including exercise and therapy balls. If you have questions about the exercise balls we carry or any of our other products, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to help you in any way we can.