Stability ball exercises are excellent for working core muscles and promoting good posture as well as improving back pain and reducing your risk of injuries. Stability ball exercises activate different muscle groups by creating an uneven exercise surface, and forcing your muscles to help keep your balance. Back extensions concentrate on your lower back and gluteal muscles (glutes), but also work the abdominal muscles and leg muscles, so they are good for people looking to tone up and get healthy, as well as athletes.
How to Perform Back Extensions
Make sure that you have the right size stability ball. When sitting on your ball, your thighs should be parallel with the ground and your legs should make a right angle at the knee. The wrong size ball can increase the difficulty of the exercise, but will also make it much easier to fall or injure yourself. If you have a history of back problems you should consult a doctor before trying this exercise.
- Kneel beside your stability ball, then let your body weight lie on it with the ball positioned at your hips. Walk your feet back until they are fully extended and you are balanced on your toes and the balls of your feet with your weight resting on your lower abdominals and hips, and your upper body curved over the ball.
- Your ball should not move during the exercise, so if you need more stability, try planting your feet against a wall.
- Place your hands against the ball near your thighs. Contract your stomach muscles to pull up your upper body until your back is straight. Do not jerk or try to move too quickly. Lower yourself back down again and repeat for your required number of repetitions. Do not try to hyper-extend your spine by pulling it too far back.
- Remember to breath and keep your upper body, particularly your shoulders and neck, relaxed.
Increasing or Decreasing the Difficulty of Back Extensions
If you find these exercises too difficult at first, try kneeling while you do them rather than extending your legs. You can try moving your hands forward, but be careful not to use them to help you raise your upper body. You might also want to try widening your stance when your legs are extended, as the wider you place your legs the easier the exercise is.
So, if you find the exercise too easy, try placing your legs more closely together. You can also try moving your hands. First, try placing them against your thighs, rather than against the ball. Then, try putting them behind your head. For even harder repetitions, try extending them out in front of you.
Back extensions work a number of important muscle groups, including the glutes, the lower back region and the abdominal muscles. They are an excellent exercise for those looking to tone these areas, or for athletes like cyclists or swimmers. They can also help to decrease your chances of injury and improve your posture.