Body balancing with the stability ball hip extension
HOLISTIC FITNESS: Using a Swiss ball, this is a good exercise to build balance and strength which can help everyday living, writes Gary Dawkins.
• The stability ball hip extension exercise is great for gluteal muscle activation, which helps you extend your hips fully and sit and stand upright.
• It also strengthens and tones the hamstrings and strengthens the lower back while activating the core and hip stabilising muscles to maintain stability throughout the full range of motion.
• A great scalable and approachable exercise - varying levels of stability and balance can be achieved by simply changing your leg and arm positions.
• An opportunity to recalibrate your brain by forming new mind/body connections.
• A good functional exercise for everyday living due to its role in strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, lower back and lower abdominals, and in stabilising the hip and pelvis.
• Also, a good exercise for all sports that involve running, because it strengthens the glutes and the hip extension function of the hamstrings.
NB: Do not perform this exercise without consulting your health specialist if you currently have lower back pain and/or hip instability issues.
How to do?
1. You will need a burst-resistant Swiss ball (available at most sport shops).
2. Put both feet on top of the ball with your legs straight and back on the ground – to make it easier, have the ball under your knees. To make it more difficult, have the ball under your feet.
3. Have your arms flat on the floor to aid in maintaining your stability. You can scale the instability of this exercise by crossing your arms over your chest.
4. Retract your shoulder blades into the floor, to further enhance your stability.
5. Lift your torso up, slowly and controlled, to a height that maintains a straight body (neutral spine), while squeezing your glutes.
6. Hold this position for 2 seconds then slowly lower your torso back to the floor.
7. Focus your attention on the activation of your glutes and hamstrings and on maintaining a very stable trunk as you perform this slow and controlled movement.
How much to do?
1. Do three sets of 8-12 repetitions, with a 45-second rest between sets, three times per week.
2. You can advance this exercise by:
• Holding for a 4-second pause at the top of the movement.
• Increasing the number of repetitions.
• Increasing the number of sets.
• Completing it daily.