06 Thu

Core exercises with the ball

Core exercises with the ball

Written by: Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CKTP, CGFI


An article in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy covered several exercises for the core utilizing the swiss ball.  I’ve used several of these exercises for my patients with good success.  The key is knowing which exercise is applicable to which patient.  Knowing what muscles are recruited and to what degree is important in proper exercise prescription, and this article explains just that.

The core muscles are a set of muscles in the trunk that control stability and distribute forces efficiently throughout the body.  When you generate power with the lower body, it’s the core that enables that power to be transferred to the upper body.  It connects the two parts and allows them to work efficiently.  Through poor technique or learned movement dysfunction, one could wind up with a weak core, and that can lead to pain and problems with the lower back.

The study tested the upper rectus abdominis, lower rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique, lumbar paraspinals, latissimus dorsi, and rectus femoris.  These are all muscles that are connected to the midsection of the trunk.  Researchers found the pike and roll-out exercise generated the most activity out of the core musculature.  However, the pike is an advanced exercise that requires a lot of coordination and balance.

The pike is performed with your hands on the ground and your feet on the ball in a plank position.  The movement is using the core muscles to pull the hips up to the ceiling, keeping the knees and back straight.

The roll-out is a different exercise.  From a kneeling position with your hands on the ball, contracting the core, you roll the ball forward and backward, keeping you back straight and your shoulders aligned with your hips.

As you can see, each exercise has a different difficulty level.  The key is making sure the client can contract the correct muscles, and then prescribing the correct difficulty of exercise routine.  I usually start with the traditional pelvic tilt and crunch exercises in supine, just to make sure that the required muscles are working.  Once I know that the client has the ability to control those core muscles, then I’ll move onto the kneeling roll-out exercise.  Afterwards, in subsequent visits, I’ll begin to add more and more progressively difficult exercises to challenge the core stability and strength.  Correct technique is more important to the amount of exercises given.

All in all, the key to exercise prescription is knowing if your selected exercise is working on the target body part, and if the client can perform the movement correctly.  If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit with us.

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