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How to Choose a Stability Ball

The stability ball is one of the pieces of equipment that I use really frequently with my clients.  These types of balls actually go by lots of different names. While I call it a stability ball, you might’ve heard someone call it a Swiss ball, exercise ball, fitness ball, gym ball, Pilates ball, yoga ball, or if you’ve been pregnant you might’ve even heard them being called a birth ball.

No matter what you call them, I’m going to help you choose the correct size for you and teach you how to measure your ball so that your ball is properly inflated. I’ve made a quick video you can find at the end of this article that will walk you through some of the info I am going to go over.

Ironically enough, stability balls are great because of the instability they offer.  Working with the instability of the ball forces you to stabilize yourself.  When you stabilize your body you need to use muscles differently than you would if you were sitting on a bench or just standing on two feet. Besides all that fancy physiology stuff, a ball is an easier, less expensive option to an exercise bench.  So while it can be used instead of a bench it also offers some variety.  When exercise/fitness is a lifestyle you want variety.  

When clients start working with me, I often have a conversation about whether they have a stability ball. If they do have one, I want to help them be sure they are using the right size, and have it inflated to the right measurement. If they don’t have one – same deal!

Size Matters

So generally speaking, stability balls come in three standard sizes. There is a 45 centimeter, 55 centimeter, and 65 centimeter size. Usually, the packaging or product description will let you know which size to choose according to your height.

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In this photo, I am sitting on a 55 centimeter ball. This is a good size for me based on my height. I am 5’9, so when I sit on the ball, my knees and hips are pretty close to being in alignment. This alignment is what you are looking for when you choose a ball.

If I was sitting on a 65 centimeter ball, you would see that my hips would be higher than my knees. In this position, I am going to be at risk for injury, and I am not going to get an optimal workout. If I tried a 45 centimeter ball, you would see my hips drop below my knees. Again, this is not going to give me the best workout and is going to put me at risk of getting hurt.

Let’s Get Pumped!

Okay, so once you have figured out the right size, and you get that ball home, you need to be sure you get it inflated. Figuring out how much to inflate the ball can be tricky. Sometimes, when you buy a ball you will get some plastic tape that you can wrap around the ball, and this helps you measure how much to inflate the ball.  You place the tape around the ball, and inflate until the ball fills the circle made by the tape. But I would say that is really rare. I think I’ve only gotten this one time in my whole career!  I do know that the Thera-Band ball comes with that tape. 

But you know I have a solution that is going to help you get that ball pumped up to the right level. And you probably have what you need right in your home. If you grab a ruler, or measuring stick, or even a tape measure, you can work this out.

What you need to do is take your measuring tool, and mark on the wall the height of the ball you chose. Now, if your measuring tool only has inches on it, I have worked that out in centimeters for you.

Size in CMSize in Inches
45 centimeters about 17.75 inches
55 centimeters about 21.5 inches
65 centimeters about 25.5 inches

So in my case, I marked about 21.5 inches on the wall, and inflated my ball until it lined up with my mark.

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Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Once your ball is inflated, it’s not a ‘one and done’ deal. You need to make sure that you are keeping your ball well inflated. Sometimes changes in weather, and just general use are going to cause the ball to deflate over time. I recommend checking the height of your ball monthly, or at any time when it’s feeling a little deflated. And if it’s not measuring up, give it a little more air until it’s at the right height.

Where to Get a Stability Ball

Don’t have a ball yet? Or maybe after reading this you’ve realized you don’t have the right size at home. The Thera-Band brand is a high-quality ball used in many physical therapy clinics.  But you don’t have to own a clinic or be a physical therapist to get this top quality brand.  You can order this brand from Perform Better.  The material used tends to hold air better requiring less maintenance having to fill it up often.  For convenience and a little less money, you may be just as happy with a ball from T.J.Maxx or Target.  

As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment or send me a message!

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Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links. I personally use products I am linking to and recommend them for my clients. If you purchase a product using my link, I may receive a commission, which is at no additional cost to you.  

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