The Humble Exercise Ball

One of the most underrated forms of physical therapy equipment is the humble exercise ball. Sometimes referred to as an activity ball or Swiss ball, they are found in a fantastic range of colours and sizes and can easily be pumped or deflated to suit your needs.

What were Exercise Balls designed for?

Despite their “playful” look, exercise balls were originally used in Switzerland (hence the name) in 1963 in treatment plans for infants. Their versatile nature meant that it wasn’t long before exercise balls were a part of many treatment plans for physiotherapists throughout Europe, America and now of course Australia.

What are the benefits of Exercise Balls?

Exercise balls have a number of benefits, and this is why they are a popular piece of physical therapy technology! They are low in cost and easily accessible from a number of shops and online stores. They can be used as an addition to most exercise routines, a tool for rehabilitation or treatment and even as an alternative option to sitting/standing. They also benefit in not just targeting one area or element of fitness, but encouraging multiple factors to interact at once (for example, strength AND balance). Due to the instability of the ball, the body is forced to work harder to stabilise the body and perform various actions while balancing.

How will my physiotherapist use it in my treatment?

Your physiotherapist will use the exercise ball in a number of ways, depending on your particular rehabilitation, your goals and the areas you plan to work on. They may encourage you to balance on the ball to complete sit-ups or push-ups, it could be as simple as sitting on the ball for extended periods whilst performing other movements or even manipulating the ball as a form of resistance.

How can I use it at home?

It can be difficult to know where to start with an exercise ball if you have never used one before, or have only used one under direct instruction from your physiotherapist. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

  • ALWAYS start by checking in with your physiotherapist to make sure the exercise ball is the right choice for you and your current goals
  • Ask your physiotherapist for exercises to complete at home using your exercise ball
  • Get some support from knowledgeable people such as personal trainers (both in person or online)
  • Don’t push too hard, the key is to build up skill and confidence – they aren’t as easy to use as they look!

Thinking of physiotherapy to live your life to the fullest? Contact the practice for an assessment today on (02) 4721 7798, email or book your next appointment online, here.

Suzanne graduated from Western Sydney University with a Bachelor of Health Science (Sports and Exercise Science) in 2015. She then went on to continue her studies at Macquarie University graduating from the Doctor of Physiotherapy post-graduate degree in June 2019.

Since graduating, Suzanne has worked in the local Penrith area in both private practice and Sports Physiotherapy. Suzanne has worked with sporting teams including Penrith District Netball Association, Mt Druitt Rangers (NPL), Penrith Valley Figure Skating Club, and local dance and cheer schools. 

Suzanne has a particular interest in working with artistic athletes including cheerleaders and dancers. She has a professional background in both cheer and dance and has previously worked as both a cheer coach and dance teacher. Suzanne’s previous experiences are an invaluable resource to her as a physiotherapist, as she has a thorough understanding of the level of physical fitness and skill acquisition that these athletes must have in order to be successful on stage and in competition.

Suzanne’s other areas of clinical interest reside in lower limb musculoskeletal injuries, spinal pathologies and women’s health.

Nathanial graduated as a physiotherapist in 2012 which saw him work in private practice and hospital settings gaining experience in all areas of physiotherapy including hand therapy, splinting/casting, pre/post-operative care, Men’s Health and general musculoskeletal, occupational and sports physiotherapy. Since then he has gone on to complete further studies in physiotherapy enabling him to be the only dual titled Musculoskeletal, Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist in Penrith.

Nathanial has a strong background in sports physiotherapy achieving accreditation with NSWIS as a service provider and working with many elite sports teams.

Nathanial has a particular interest in working with elite athletes, complex cases and in particular assessment and management of knee, hip and shoulder pain.

Andrea graduated from the Australian Catholic University completing her Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science in 2018 and Master’s of Clinical Exercise Physiology in 2020. After graduating she attained accreditation with ESSA as an Exercise Physiologist.

During her studies she gained clinical experience in both hospital and private practice settings, working in the cardiac rehabilitation program, heart failure service and mental health unit at Nepean Hospital. And at the ACU Exercise and Lifestyle Clinic working with clients with neurological conditions, cancer and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.

Since graduating, Andrea enjoys working with a variety of clients. She has a particular interest in treating musculoskeletal injuries and neurological conditions, striving to help people increase their functional capacity to get them back to work, sport or the things they love doing.