Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stability Ball Safety

Recently, stability balls have been in the news. Unfortunately, it's not because of the exercises you can do with them but rather because of injuries allegedly sustained while using them.

In October, a Chicago man filed suit against XSport Fitness when the ball he was using at their club “collapsed, deflated and became unstable”. According to the lawsuit, the ball's collapse caused the man to fall, suffering injuries.

Also last month, Francisco Garcia of the Sacramento Kings broke his arm while performing dumbbell presses on an exercise ball in the team weight room. Garcia had to have surgery and is expected to miss 4 months of the NBA season due to the injury.

So, does that mean stability balls are unsafe? That depends.

I don't know the specifics of the other incident but Francisco Garcia weighs 195 and was lifting 180 pounds of weight. What was the weight limit on the ball he was using? Some are over 1000 lbs., some much less. How heavily was the ball used by the athletes and how old was it? Was it regularly checked for wear?

A stability balls is a great asset to your fitness routine, especially if you work out at home and have limited equipment. You just need to resist the urge to go cheap. I realize that it's tempting to pick up the least expensive brand at your local discount store but is it worth the risk or hassle?

Just this April, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of 3 million fitness balls sold under the names Valeo, Bally Total Fitness, Body Fit and Everlast.

I've read comments by exercisers who had to constantly refill their balls. One reviewer had a cat who had burst multiple cheap exercise balls. Even if the ball doesn't collapse under you, what's the liklihood you'll use it regularly if you have to constantly inflate it?

If you want to buy a stability ball, do your homework.

* How many people will be using the ball?
* How much do those people weigh?
* What's the ball's weight limit?
* Follow the recommendations and purchase the right size for your height. (If you have exceptionally long legs and are close to the upper height range, you may want to go with the next size up.)

I'm sure there are lots of good stability balls out there. I have always used Thera-Band balls at Body & Soul. They're a quality product used by many physical therapists and they're very sturdy. The Thera-Band Exercise Ball also has a Slow Deflate System®; it's designed to deflate slowly if punctured.

If you're in the market for a stability ball, you can check them out here ==> Thera-Band Exercise Balls

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