A stability ball is an excellent means for post-workout stretching. Initially, it was used for physical therapy in offices, but these days, the stability ball is used in most gymnasiums’ fitness classes as well as in personal training sessions. Ball stretching targets all the muscles of the body with some unique and challenging exercises. You can open up your chest, hips, and back while building stability and balance with these relaxing moves. However, make sure you consult a doctor before trying this stretching if you have any illnesses, injuries, or other conditions.
For ball stretching, all you need to have is a stability ball and a mat, and you can try all of the following exercises.
This stretch opens up the chest and releases tight muscles. People who sit in front of their computers all day with hunched shoulders are most likely to have tight chest muscles, so this can be an excellent exercise for them. Start by sitting on the stability ball and walking the feet forward until only your neck and shoulder blades are supported by the ball. Keep your feet flat on the floor and bend the knees. Relax your hips and allow for a stretch through the abdominals. Let the arms relax to the sides, opening the chest. You should hold this position for at least twenty to thirty seconds before walking yourself back to the original position. Repeat the exercise thrice.
Shoulder & Back Stretch
This ball stretching exercise loosens the muscles in the upper back while allowing you to open up the shoulder blades. You need to stand in front of the ball, bend forward from the hips, and place the pinky-side of your right hand on the ball. While slightly bending the knees, roll the ball toward the left, opening up the right shoulder blade and keeping the hips square. Before switching to the other side, hold for three to five breaths.
Upper Back Stretch
This relaxes the muscles in the upper back and shoulders and eases the tightness in your lower back. Kneel down with the stability ball placed in front of you with your toes on the floor. Place both hands on the ball and roll forward gently while rounding through your upper back. Drop the head between your arms and pull the hips down toward your heels. Hold this position for twenty to thirty seconds before you roll back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise twice or thrice.
Full Spinal Stretch
This stretching exercise eases the tightness throughout the back. Sit on the stability ball and walk the feet out so that the ball is underneath your spine. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Hold the stretch for twenty to thirty seconds before you roll back onto your feet. Repeat the steps at least two to three times.
Full Body Stretch
The stretch relaxes the spine as well as releases the tight shoulder and abdominal muscles. It is perfect for people who are suffering from sciatic pain. Lie face down on the stability ball so that your stomach is on the ball, and your feet should be shoulder-width apart with your legs relaxed and toes on the floor. Allow the arms to relax over the front of the ball. Next, slowly straighten your legs behind you with your hands reaching toward the floor and letting the hips fall toward the ground. You should hold the stretch for thirty seconds and release by walking your feet back in toward the ball. Repeat the exercise two to three times. To make this stretch more dynamic, you can add a slight roll, like moving forward and back over the ball and pushing with the feet.
Hip Circles on the Ball
The circular motion of this ball stretching exercise releases the tight lower back muscles while increasing flexibility. You can sit on the stability ball with the feet flat on the floor and knees bent at 90-degree angles. Sit up straight and extend through the spine, pulling your abdominals in. Slowly move the hip in a clockwise circular motion. Before circling in the counter-clockwise motion, repeat the circular motion fifteen to twenty times.
This ball stretching workout also uses spinal rotation to stretch the lower back. You should lie flat on the back with your toes pointing up and heels on the ball. Bend your knees at 90-degree angles and extend your arms along the floor to your sides at shoulder height. Keep the shoulder blades on the floor while slowly dropping the knees to the right. Make sure your feet remain on the ball as the ball rolls with your movement. Hold the position for twenty to thirty seconds before returning to the original position and repeat the stretch on your opposite side, dropping the knees to the left. Repeat this exercise three to four times on each side.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Avid exercisers and runners will benefit from this hip flexor stretch. You need to straddle the ball in a lunge position and keep your right leg in front of it and your knees directly over your ankles. Extend the left leg behind the ball and keep the toes pointing forward. Using the hips, roll the ball forward slowly while pressing the left hip into the ball. As your front knee remains bent, keep the abdominals pulled in tight and back leg straight. To improve the intensity of the stretch, raise the shoulders, extending them through the spine and lifting through the chest. You should hold the stretch for twenty to thirty seconds and then repeat with the other leg.
The series of ball stretching exercises outlined here can be done both individually and as a group. With regular workouts, they can provide pain relief and enhance your body’s flexibility and range of motion. Also, they will improve your balance as they force you to engage your core muscles during every exercise. Stretching is best done when your muscles are warm, so it is recommended to do ball stretching at the end of your gyming routine.