Stability Ball


What is the ball?

The stability ball was used for many years in the medical rehabilitation field in Europe as a way to treat persons with neurological disorders and spinal injuries. In the early 60's these balls were used for rehabilitation and back strengthening by physical therapists in the USA. In 1993, the concept of a ball training program came about through Mike and Stephanie Morris using the "Resist-A-Ball".

Many articles featuring the "Resist-A-Ball" have appeared in Shape, American Fitness and Weight Watchers. A University of Texas study discovered that training with the ball had advantages over floor training. A San Diego State study found that "stability training for two hours a week is effective in improving functional and static balance of older adults".

Why Use It? Ball Basics More Information


What should I do before I start?

Before starting any exercise program, consult your doctor.

What should I keep in mind?

If you have any pain while using the ball, stop.

Use the ball in an open area without obstacles. Progress slowly with control and balance.

All exercises can be modified to the level of the person involved.

Breathe normally, do not hold your breath.


Why should I use the ball?

For chronic pain or RSD/CRPS patients, the ball has the following benefits:

  • each person can progress at their own pace using small steps
  • program elements can be used to design your own specific program or modified to target specific areas of concern
  • the ball improves balance which is a common problem in deconditioned RSD/CRPS patients
  • the ball improves posture, body awareness and coordination which are necessary for daily function
  • the ball helps improve strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness
  • the ball can be used for all fitness levels, even if the person is deconditioned
  • deconditioned individuals can start with the least amount of resistance and progress to the most resistance, step by step
    some positions allow for a greater range of motion than on the floor
  • almost every exercise works to strengthen the trunk e.g. abs and back


The ball can be also be used for:

  • total body conditioning
  • abdominal/trunk strengthening
  • sports specific
  • interval training
  • seniors or children
  • stretching and relaxation
  • prenatal, postnatal and birthing

Adapted from: Morris, Mike and Stephanie. C.O.R.E. Ball Techniques 1999


How does the resist-a-ball work?

To illustrate how the ball is used, follow this example.
Each movement on the ball begins with a simple position e.g. sitting on the ball. Move the pelvis to the front, to the back and then find the neutral seated position. This is a starting position which is used with proper alignment e.g. knees, hips in line, sitting tall.

The next step is to introduce the movement pattern with control and very little challenge. e.g. lift and hold one foot off the ground while maintaining the starting position.

If control is still a challenge, another form of a challenge is not introduced. However if control is good then another challenge is issued e.g.. lift opposite arm while having one foot off ground in starting position.


When I first began to use the stability ball, there was very little I could do but sit on it. To warm up the muscles, I had gentle stretching exercises. I was also given five starting positions and a few basic movements for each one. In the beginning, balance was the major problem. With practice, I gradually gained control of my balance, and the movements followed. Working with mats around the ball, also helped alleviate fear of falling. Gradually as my balance improved, I eliminated the mats.

At first I worked at my own pace with a specific ball program designed by a personal trainer. As I improved, I kept track of what movements I could do and what caused pain. What I could do without pain, I continued doing. Gradually, I increased the number of repetitions and the difficulty factor. This took many months of experimentation and work. I tracked my progress in a journal.

After mastering the starting positions, balance and basic movements, I was ready to try a ball class. I approached the teacher with some information on RSD/CRPS. I was very specific about what I had already done on my own and movements I had tried but could not do because of pain.

She was a very understanding, encouraging teacher who was able to modify movements for me during class. Again, I kept track of what worked and what didn't. Each time I found something that caused pain, my teacher was able to find a different way for me to do it.

Each day I move forward another step. With perseverance, patience and encouragement, I have improved my balance, co-ordination, strength (especially in the legs), flexibility and core strength. I continue using the ball three times a week. Now I can do some of the challenges!

Special thanks to Cathy Mills for her encouragement and invaluable assistance as my patient instructor.



Remember the elements. Realize that you are trying to maintain balance and a position, In the beginning, this will be a challenge but you can tackle one element at a time. Learn how to maintain balance first.

One small step. The concept of small steps, progressing to bigger steps is very much inherent in the ball program. When you have RSD/CRPS, taking small steps is the best way to start. Give yourself credit for each accomplishment.

Don't give up! Some days may be tough but stick with it and you will see progress. The ball helps improve daily function e.g. abs and back strength, balance, flexibility, and co-ordination. Stay with it!

Improvise, adapt, modify. Don't be afraid to modify your exercises if you need to. Slow the pace, do the task differently or re-design the task to suit your needs. Take note of what feels OK and what aggravates the pain. Eliminate painful movements. Add more pain-free movements. Remember that the ball program is flexible.

Stay positive. Look at what you CAN do, not what you can't do. Make a list of goals. Work towards them gradually.

For more information on a beginners' ball program, E-mail us.


RESIST-A-BALL: For further information on the Resist-A-Ball, Stephanie and Mike Morris have a web site. They also train instructors. Please visit:

BALL CLASSES: To find a ball class near you, contact your local fitness club or call: White Oaks Fitness and Racquet Club at 905 688 6800. Ask for the Fitness Dept. and Cathy Mills, Resist-a-Ball instructor.




Copyright © 2002-2010 The P.A.R.C | disclaimer