Fitness & Health with Dr. Julie

A Column by Dr. Julie Sieben.

A Column by Dr. Julie Sieben.

One of the buzz words out there in the fitness industry is “functional training.”

Functional training refers to training in such as way that your workouts will enhance your performance in your sport.

If your sport happens to be life itself, then training in such a way to make your activities of daily living easier.

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The stability ball is a fun way to enhance most any exercise and add a functional component as it creates an unstable surface.

This unstable surface forces the exerciser is to engage his/her core musculature more and recruit more muscles in general than doing the same exercise on a bench or floor.

This will easily transfer into activities of daily life since much of what we do during a routine day, such as bending over to pick something up or stand for a long period of time, requires core balance and coordination.

Below are three of my favorite exercise on the stability ball.

Stability Ball Exercises:

This photo illustrates teh exercise Alternating Arm Leg. It is shown here without the ball as a beginner version of the exercise. As you progress, you can add the ball to create an unstable surface.

This photo illustrates teh exercise Alternating Arm Leg. It is shown here without the ball as a beginner version of the exercise. As you progress, you can add the ball to create an unstable surface.

1. Alternating Arm/Leg on Ball:

What it works: This dynamic exercise strengthens all the muscles of the back, as well as the glutes and the hamstrings. It also improves balance and core stability.  This a great over all conditioning exercise and super for people with chronic lower back pain that often has to do with weakness and poor core stability.

How to do it: Lay on your belly on the ball with your hands on the floor under your shoulders and your feet straight out, on the balls of your feet. Simultaneously lift your right arm straight out in front of you and your left leg straight out behind you to the height of the your body. Pause for a second at the top and lower. Switch sides. Repeat for 16-20 reps (8-10 per side). Once this becomes easy you can add light weights in your hands (about 3 pounds).

exercise012. Ball Bridge:

What it works: This exercise targets your lower back, gluteals and your hamstrings. It is an effective way to tighten up the gluteals, as well as strengthen the back and back of your legs.

exercise03How to do it: Position yourself face up on the ball so that your head, shoulders and upper back are on the ball. Your legs are bent at about a 90-degree angle so that your feet are directly below your knees and your hips are up.  Lower your hips toward the floor without touching the floor. Then driving through both heels, squeeze your glutes and push your hips back up to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and do 3 sets.

3.  Wheel on the ball:

exercise04What it works: This modification of the yoga pose wheel effectively stretches the entire front of the body, including the chest, shoulder, abdominals and hip flexors. It helps extend our back, which is a nice compliment for those of us who sit in front of the computer or in a call a lot!

How to do it: Lay on your back on the ball so that the ball is in the middle of your back. Reach your arms over your head and behind you as if you were reaching to the floor over your head. At the same time, extend your legs straight out and keep you feet about hip distance apart. Breathe, relax and enjoy this invigorating stretch for 15-60 seconds.

For questions and requests for future topics, I can be contacted through my website drjuliesieben.com or via email at [email protected].

Life is a workout. Let’s make it a good one!

 Julie Sieben of Orleans is a chiropractor, exercise instructor, personal trainer, and wellness consultant.