Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. If you have a question, just ask! Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

Back Strengthening Exercises with Swiss Ball

This video will show you some back strengthening exercises with a Swiss ball. Many different things can cause back pain. You can get back strains or sprains, and it can even be more severe like a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. You might even be diagnosed with big scary words like spondylosis or spondylolisthesis. It is very important to have good posture while performing these exercises. The Swiss ball or therapy ball is a great way to work your core muscle and gain good trunk stability. It doesn't take much to get a good workout on one of these!  Make sure you are holding your abdominal muscles in or contracting them while you are exercising, or you might fall off the ball. Sitting on it with good posture is a workout in itself.

The first exercises are going to be doing a series of pelvic tilts. You want to make sure you are moving just at your hips. If you upper body is moving, you are not doing it right. Have your feet about shoulder width apart, and make sure your knees and hips are bent at about 90 degrees. You can hold onto the ball for balance to start or put the ball against a wall. First you will just rotate your hips front to back, or anterior to posterior. Then you will do the tilts from side to side, or lateral tilts. Finally, you will rotate them around in circles, or a hula-hoop motion. Make sure to do each direction. You can start out with just 10 to 15 of each of these. They will feel easy when you do them, but make sure not to overdo it because you won't feel the soreness until later.

Next you are going to do some combination moves. Now you are going to gently lift one foot off the ground, or a hip flexion movement. Try not to go fast, the Swiss ball is about balance and control, and if you go fast, you lose the benefits of it. Alternate your feet about 10 times on each side. Next you are going to kick your leg out, or a knee extension movement. If those become easy, you can add your arms into the exercises to make it harder. First try lifting your opposite arm with your leg, alternating back and forth. Then try lifting the same side arm and leg together for increased difficulty. Finally, you can lie down on the ball with your knees bent, and then lift your knees as seen in the video.

 

Moderate Swiss Ball Exercises

One of the best ways to strengthen your core and make your back stronger is to use a Swiss Ball. Once you have mastered some of the easy Swiss ball exercises, try some of these moderate level Swiss ball exercises.

You are going to start off with a basic crunch. Roll your body forward until your hips come slightly off the ball and your lower back is touching the ball. Try not to strain your neck while doing these exercises. Roll back slowly and controlled, and roll back up. Just start out with 5-10 and work your way up. Now roll down to where your shoulders are on the ball into a tabletop position. Squat down bending your knees and come back up into the tabletop position. This is working your hamstring muscles. Try to keep the ball as still as possible. If the ball is moving around a lot, you are probably not ready for these exercises yet.

Next, you are going to come off the ball, and kneel down propping your elbows on the ball. This is like a prayer position. Tuck your bottom in so you are in a straight line. If that is easy, then you can push up onto your toes into a plank position. Start off with 5-10 seconds and work your way up. Now you are going to do a walk out or roll out. Put the ball close to you on your knees. Roll onto the ball and continue rolling through and walking your body out with your hands. Just try rolling out to your knees first, and then you can make your way to your toes.

 

Advanced Swiss Ball Exercises

If you've already mastered the basic Swiss Ball exercises and the moderate Swiss Ball exercises, then you are ready for these more advanced Swiss Ball exercises to strengthen your core and back muscles. Start off lying on your back. Put your legs on the ball, and keep your back and head down on the floor. Bridge up by lifting your hips off the floor into a straight line. Try not to arch your back, and pause for about 3-5 seconds. If that becomes easy, you can try the bridging with one leg.

Next, you are going to roll the ball toward you while in a bridge position. Try to keep the ball in a straight line and bend your knees up towards your chest pulling the ball to you. If that is easy, then try with one leg. The last exercise is going to be plank push-ups. Roll out on the ball with your feet on the ball and your hands flat on the ground. Keep your back straight like you are in a tabletop position. Now drop down on one elbow, then the other elbow, and then back up. 

 

Hamstring Strengthening Exercises

Here are some simple hamstring strengthening exercises to get your hamstrings stronger.  There are some more advanced hamstring exercises in the Swiss ball exercises once you master these. You may also want to check out the Hamstring Stretching Exercises.

The hamstrings are very important muscles, and they are usually involved with back pain, hip pain, or knee pain. Here are some simple hamstring strengthening exercises to get your hamstrings stronger. Once you master these, there are some more advanced hamstring exercises in the moderate Swiss ball exercises and the advanced Swiss ball exercises. You may also want to check out the Hamstring Stretching Exercises.

To begin these hamstring strengthening exercises, start off on your back for the first exercise. Bend your knees up into a hooklying position. You will do a bridging exercise by pushing your hips up off the ground. If that is easy, you can do the same thing with one leg at a time. Next, you are going to roll over on your stomach. Pull your heel up and back as far as you can to your bottom. Eventually you will want to add ankle weights for more resistance.

The next exercise is standing. Hold onto something to start off with so you can do the correct form. Keep the top part of your leg even with the leg you are standing on. Pull your heel back to your bottom as far as you can without bringing your knee up or flexing your hip. Now you are going to perform a squat. Make sure that your knees do not go in front of your toes. Keep your legs shoulder width apart, and push your butt back like you are going to sit in a chair. Your weight on your feet should be equal all around, not shifted to your toes or to your heels.

Finally, you are going to do a lunge. Again, make sure your knees do not go in front of your toes, and keep your upper body straight. You can see the modified versions of the squats and lunges in the knee strengthening video. 

 

Nerve Pain, Muscle Pain, or Joint Pain?

Q: How can I tell the difference between nerve pain, muscle pain, or joint pain?

A: It is very important to know what kind of pain you are having. A frustrating answer I hear when asking someone to describe their pain is,  “It just hurts.” Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, there are many different kinds of pain. If you are able to be specific about your pain, it can greatly help your clinician better diagnose you and eventually help you to feel better.
 
So back to the question. There are many types of pain. The most common are nerve pain, joint pain, vascular pain, and muscle pain. Nerve pain is commonly described as sharp, bright, burning, or shooting. Joint pain can be dull, achy, and very localized. Vascular pain is usually diffused, achy, and poorly localized.  The most common type of pain is muscle pain.  It is usually very hard to localize, dull and achy. It usually is aggravated by an injury, and sometimes even refers to another area.  
 
So please pay close attention to the kind of pain you are having so you can easily describe it to your health care provider.
 
Have Nerve Pain? This video may be able to help.
 

 

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