Prenatal Exercises on a Stability Ball
If anyone were to ask me what I've discovered during my second pregnancy which I didn't know about the first time around, I would say: the stability ball (or exercise ball, as some call it). Yes, I'm talking about that large, bouncy ball thingy that you may have seen lying in the corner at gyms. You may even have used one during your workouts, likely when forced to do so by a fitness trainer. Well, during this pregnancy, I've discovered the power of the stability ball! For me, it's been a super handy prop for my workouts as well as a source of relief for my back pain.
No doubt, there is a lot of information you can find online about how stability balls can be a helpful companion to your pregnancy-related workouts. Here, I'm going to talk about how I've been incorporating this innocuous exercise ball into my daily life and how it has worked well for me. (As a disclaimer, please do consult your doctor before doing something you're unsure of! You and your physician will know best your condition.)
Pick the right ball
First things first, stability balls come in different diametrical sizes so it is important to pick the right size. A good rule of thumb to follow is to pick one which allows a 90 degree angle or slightly higher between the hips and knees with feet firmly planted on the floor. For more details, you can refer to websites which outline optimal sizes based on one's height.
Physical Relief Benefits
The stability ball has proved to be a fun and easy way for me to improve my posture and balance. Sitting on the ball notably relieves the pressure on my back and hips and instantly adjusts my body in a more comfortable and upright spinal position. Whenever I come from a long day of either sitting at work or standing for many hours, I come home and sit on the ball and gently bounce around on it (much to my son's amusement). It's now my go-to chair in the house and I'm even tempted to bring it to the workplace! Besides reducing back pain and pressure, the exercise ball is also said to encourage blood flow to the uterus and to prime your baby to settle into the downward anterior position.
The exercise ball is a great accompaniment to your prenatal workouts, especially during the later stages of your pregnancy where hardcore workouts, like jogging and heavy cardio, are tougher to pull off. I use the ball to do a variety of workouts such as:
- Sitting on the ball and doing different arm strengthening exercises using light weights
- Wall squat to target thighs and buttocks
- Side leg lifts supported by the ball
- Kegel exercises for strengthening your pelvic floor (many underestimate the importance of doing this exercise. This may be more than you want to know but if you want to avoid loose pelvic floor muscles and incontinence later on, this is crucial!)
There are several more exercises you can do as assisted by the exercise ball but check out my quick video below to get an idea of what I've been doing. Basically, I do 10-15 reps of each exercise (can adjust this number, depending on your comfort and fitness level) in a sequence followed by a break. Then I repeat until I have completed 3 sets. It's a good, light workout to get your heart pumping and to keep you strong and fit. Bottom line: low impact, high return.