Stability balls are quickly becoming one of the most common and widely used pieces of fitness equipment in homes and fitness centers today. They are inexpensive and versatile. They can be used for stretching, strength training, balance improvement, and much more. They can also, after proper training, be effectively used by people of all ages and fitness levels.
The increase in use of stability balls has also resulted in an increase in injuries associated with their use. The majority of these injuries can be attributed to improper use, which is why it is important to make sure all staff and members are properly trained. Another cause of injuries is faulty or improperly used equipment. On occasion, stability balls have been known to pop resulting in serious injury to the user. The five most common causes of stability ball bursts are:
- Excessive user weight
- Weakened or worn areas (especially seams)
- Use beyond manufacturer’s recommended life
Stability Ball Safety Tips
Make sure anyone using a stability ball has been properly trained before they begin exercising with them. Improper use of stability balls can result in serious injuries. Consider the following recommendations:
- Use stability balls on a mat to act as a cushion in case of a fall.
- Use stability balls on clean smooth surfaces, free of debris, to reduce wear and the possibility of puncture.
- Position the ball against a wall to prevent it from rolling out underneath you or to prevent you from falling backwards.
- Place chairs or other sturdy supports on the sides of the stability balls to provide balance when exercising in a seated position.
- Avoid quick, jerking movements such as bouncing which can greatly reduce your balance and lead to a fall.
Another important aspect in making sure individuals can safely and effectively use stability balls is to properly store, clean, inflate, and maintain them. One of the most common causes of stability ball bursts is poor maintenance. Proper maintenance can increase the life and effectiveness of most stability balls.
Inflation: Over time, stability balls will lose air and as a result will need to be re-inflated. Make sure to always follow the manufacturer’s suggested instruction for inflation and never attempt to over-inflate.
Storage: Do not store stability balls in overly cool or warm places as this will cause the air inside the ball to either expand or contract. Also, store stability balls in a safe area to protect them from unauthorized use and damage. Stability balls should also be stored away from other exercise equipment. Stability balls should be stored in closets or on racks to prevent them from rolling and injuring others.
Cleaning: Exercise with stability balls usually involves quite a bit of contact, which is why it is so important to routinely clean them. Make sure to only use mild soap and water since chemical cleaners can damage and potentially degrade the ball. Diseases, such as MRSA, can reside on improperly sanitized stability balls.
Mark & Catalog: It is important to mark all stability balls with their date purchased and their burst limits. Stability balls, depending on level of use, typically have a 12-month lifespan and should be replaced afterwards. Also, stability balls come with a range of burst limits ranging from 200 pounds to over 1,000 pounds. These limits should be marked so heavier people, or those lifting weights, know to use to heaviest balls available.