Today, we will look at why employing a Swiss ball could be more beneficial for the back-pain patient than simply doing floor-based exercises.
In a study back in 2015 published in the journal of Science and Medicine, researchers assigned twelve chronic lower back pain (cLBP) patients to perform either floor, or ball-based exercises, 3 times a week for 8 weeks, performing 4 different motions or exercises.
Whilst subjects in both groups enjoyed progression, the gains witnessed were much greater for those using the Swiss/gym ball in terms of functional improvement. CT scans of partakers in the ball group also found an increase in the cross-sectional area of the deep low back stabilising multifidus (MF) muscles.
The question is, why did the Swiss ball patients gain better outcomes? A likely probability is that the use of an unstable device like a gym ball, promotes the neuromuscular system to work harder to maintain balance.
This process not only improves proprioception i.e. the body’s ability to sense where its varying parts are in relation to one another for purposes of movement and balance, but it also works out additional muscle groups that are involved in normal everyday movement that may not be activated when exercising from the floor or another stable surface.
The four Swiss ball exercises included in the study:
1) Bridge-1: Lay face up (on your back) with the ball under your upper back and bring one knee toward the chest to a 90/90° hip/knee angle; hold ten seconds and repeat five times with each leg.
2) Bridge-2: Lay face up with your upper back on the floor with the ball under the pelvis; push down into the ball with the pelvis for ten seconds and repeat five times.
3) Bird-dog (kneel on all-fours—quadruped position): Place a small ball (4-6”) under one knee (kneel on it) and slowly lift and straighten the opposite leg and balance for ten seconds and repeat ten times with each leg.
4) “See-Saw:” Lay on your stomach with the ball under the pelvis/hips, balance on the forearms, raise the legs, and do a scissors-kick (as if swimming) for ten seconds ten times with each leg.
We encourage proper form and working safely within “reasonable pain boundaries” that you deem acceptable. Gradually increase reps and sets as you improve.
If you would like to learn more or feel a visit to your Osteopath could be beneficial, book online at www.cramosteopaths.co.uk/book-online
We look forward to seeing you!
Adapted article, credit: https://www.drmatthewdunnonline.com/1263/exercises-on-a-swiss-ball-help-back-pain-patients-/