Using stability ball at work beneficial

Nov. 12, 2009 at 3:49 PM
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Using a stability ball as an office chair has multiple benefits for workers, U.S. researchers suggest.

Ergonomic experts at Indiana University in Bloomington determined the ball strengthens core muscles and may help people avoid lower back pain because the freedom of movement decreases confined or constrained body postures.

Study researcher Kelly Jo Baute also found reaching with the non-dominant hand results in different firing patterns in leg musculature compared with reaching with the dominant hand.

"It's a learning effect. When you use your dominant hand, your firing patterns are more established, even in the lower body, to stabilize the movement. Interestingly, when reaching with the non-dominant hand, muscle recruitment appears to be different," Baute said in a statement. However, Baute cautions against spending too much time on the ball and employees should gradually increase the amount of time it is used.

The study measured electrical activity in lower body muscles -- such as hamstrings and shin muscles -- for nine men, ages 23-29, who sat on a stability ball at a work station.

Stability balls are inflatable balls, 14 to 34 inches in diameter most often used in physical therapy, athletic training and exercise.

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