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VIDEO: Adding stability ball to your fitness routine works muscles, and ligaments, tendons

In this week's fitness video, Newmarket athletic therapist Jen Mark demonstrates the importance of quality movement patterns

Using the stability ball can add a lot of value to your workout. They are very unstable, making them tricky to manoeuvre, but your body will have to work a lot harder. 

Using equipment that is unstable not only works your muscles but also your tendons and ligaments. The smaller, intrinsic, muscles that surround your joints will benefit from this type of training. 

The stability ball can be added to a variety of exercises that you are already doing. In the video you will see many regular exercises with the stability ball added. The key is to stay focused on your balance and stay controlled. 

If you rush your movements, you will use momentum and the stabilizing muscles will not get a chance to develop. Your movements should be smooth, however. If you go too slow you won’t have good movement. This instability work allows you to focus on you, your movement quality, and how well you can control your movements. 

In life, sport, and fitness, we need to have quality movement patterns.

In quite a bit of the core work, using a stability ball, you will be using your shoulders. Keep your shoulder blades down and slightly together. While you might get tired in the shoulders, keep your focus on your abs. Sometimes changing where you focus makes a big difference in where you feel the exercise. 

Because the whole body has to work, watch your lower back. No matter what the exercise is, keep your spine in neutral. The most common error is allowing your back to sag or drop toward the floor. A good rule of thumb to live by: your ear-shoulder-hip-heel should all be in alignment. 

In the video you will see a variety of planks, roll outs, and using the ball between your ankles. Be creative with your exercises. Have fun with them. If you fall out of the exercise, don’t get frustrated, get right back into it. 

I want to specifically talk about the leg lowers at the end of the video. Don’t worry about how low you get your legs. The legs in this exercise are the resistance, while the core muscles prevent movement in the trunk. Hold your belly button up toward your nose, keep your lower back flat on the floor, and breath! Only lower your legs as far as you can keep your trunk still.

As you get stronger, you will be able to lower your legs further. Sometimes the hip has a hard time with this one, as well. As your pelvis gets more stable, you will find that the femur (leg bone) doesn’t move around in the hip joint so much. That will definitely make it feel better.

Remember, it’s not just using the stability ball that adds value. It’s controlling your body and movements with the stability ball that adds value. This, of course, takes time to master. Start with smaller movements and simple exercises. Begin to add resistance and more complex patterns as you improve. 

If you are looking for more ideas, want to make sure you are working out correctly, or need motivation, let’s connect — even virtually! 

Jen Mark, is a Registered Kinesiologist, Certified Athletic Therapist, and Registered Yoga Teacher at Matrix of Motion Fitness Studios and Sports Medicine Centre of Excellence in Newmarket. Jen is currently the athletic therapist with the Markham Majors Bantams. Jen is also the head therapist and holistic director for the Junior Development Squad with the Men’s program under Field Hockey Canada. Jen uses her athletic therapy for exercise and manual treatments including soft tissue massage, joint mobilizations, and muscle energy.