Why Swiss Ball Workouts ... Work!
Lots of runners, especially when they’re running tired, have a tendency towards running with a hunched over running style. Running with poor form like this can lead to niggles and injuries from the demands of training. So if you run this way, or if you notice you start slouching towards the end of your long runs, you need to work on improving your running form through strengthening your core.
One of the best ways to strengthen your core is to use a Swiss ball or stability ball.
Read on to find out ... Why Swiss Ball Workouts ... Work!
Swiss balls add instability to exercises. Even just sitting on a Swiss ball activates the core muscles as well as the glute and hip muscles, as the body fights to keep you sitting stable on the ball.
Hands up if you've ever FALLEN OFF a Swiss ball! ✋
Workouts using a Swiss ball make the whole body move as one. Core muscles as well as muscles surrounding the hips and shoulders all have to work together, which isn’t usually the case when performing the same exercise on ‘dry land’.
Swiss ball workouts are challenging. The wobble and instability from the ball, and your body’s effort to stabilise you (and not fall off or have the ball roll out from beneath you 🤣), means you have to work harder to control each movement.
As well as improving your core stability, exercises using Swiss balls also strengthen the quads, glutes, back and hip muscles, which helps improve overall muscle strength and stability for injury prevention and improving running form.
Which Ball Should I Buy?
You can buy a Swiss ball cheaply online or from a sports store. But make sure the ball you use is the right size for your height so you’re performing exercises correctly.
When you sit on the ball your hips must be level or just slightly higher than your knees. Here's a guide to which size you should buy:
4’11” – 5’4″ (150 cm – 160 cm) ball size 55 cm
5’5″ – 5’11” (160 cm – 180 cm) ball size 65 cm
6’0″ + (180 cm +) ball size 75 cm
How Should I Use a Swiss Ball?
Doing exercises on a Swiss ball gives you an additional workout challenge by adding instability to the movement.
You’ll find that when you sit or lie on the ball, your legs and abs have to contract to keep you from falling off. So if you use a Swiss ball to do an exercise, such as a crunch, you’ll be using more muscles, and often the deep core muscles for the exercise. Double bonus!
There are three ways that the Swiss ball can be used:
Instability. First to add instability and ‘wobble’, which engages and works more muscles. For example doing a crunch on a Swiss ball.
Movement. Second, you can roll the ball and use them for exercises requiring movement, such as the rollout.
‘Weight’. Or you can use the ball as a ‘weight’ and move the it from one side of your body to the other, or pass it between your hands and feet, as in the V pass exercise.
They’re also great to use for other training:
Weight training. You can use a Swiss ball instead of a bench to add difficulty to your training. The instability provided by the Swiss ball will mean you’re doing a full body workout, engaging your legs, glutes and abs whilst you're pumping iron!
Abs training. Doing your abs workouts, crunches, twists etc on a Swiss ball adds difficulty as more muscles are used.
Office chair. Just sitting on an exercise ball can be a challenge! Using a Swiss ball as an office chair is a great, passive way, to improve your posture when sitting in front of a computer all day. You're working out without realising it!
Stretching. The ball is great for stretching, it's especially good to lie over to release tension in the back and shoulders.
What exercises should I do?
Crunches, the Russian twist and Swiss ball roll out are great exercises to work your core, which needs to be strong to support our torso when running, whilst the hamstring curl, jackknife and wall squat work the glutes, hip flexors and legs and help strengthen and stabilise the hip muscles.
So now you know all about why you should practice yoga for strong running, why don't you join my 7 Strength & Conditioning Sets for Success Challenge.
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