How to Use Yoga Balls as Chairs

It’s no surprise that according to a CDC survey, about 1 in 4 people in the United States sit for 8 hours or more per day. Sitting for such excessive periods of time can cause chronic issues like sciatic nerve pain, back pain, type 2 diabetes, depression and certain types of cancer. But using a yoga ball chair, or commonly known as a stability ball, can help you with what we call “active sitting”. Since you’re engaging your core and working to stay balanced while you sit, your range of motion is improving and you’re more mindful of your posture.

However, if you’re thinking of swapping your desk chair for a yoga ball, make sure you’re only using it in increments of a couple hours at a time, because sitting on a yoga ball can make you slump your lower back, causing “spinal shrinkage”.

The people who benefit the most from using yoga balls as chairs are:

  • Pregnant people - Sitting on a ball in the second and early third trimester can help alleviate pain from the baby bump pressing on the tops of their legs, like it would in a standard chair.
  • Postpartum people - Those that have recently given birth can deflate their yoga balls slightly so it’s more comfortable for the pelvic floor to sit on.
  • People with hemorrhoids - Like postpartum people, those that have hemorrhoids can sit on a more comfortable surface, easing pain caused from the condition.

Guidelines for yoga balls

1. Don’t sit too long

You may find that if you’re sitting for prolonged periods of time on a yoga ball that you feel sore in your lower and middle back. We recommend not sitting on a yoga ball for more than 2 hours at a time.

2. Keep it inflated

Unless you’re pregnant, postpartum, or have hemorrhoids, you should always keep your yoga ball pumped up so that you’re perching on it, and not sinking into it.

3. Buy one that is proportional to your body

As with most things, purchasing a yoga ball that is proportional to your height is key. Your feet should rest flat on the floor and your hips should be bent at a 90-degree angle. If your knees are higher than your hips, your yoga ball is too small for your frame.

Tips for sitting safely on yoga balls

If you’re ready to start using a yoga ball instead of a desk chair for a few hours at a time, be sure that your workstation can accommodate your new height. You may need a different desk, external mouse and keyboard, or other modifications. Keep these tips in mind when thinking about your posture:

  1. When you’re looking at your computer screen, your chin should be parallel with the floor so you’re not looking up or down at the screen.
  2. Keep your shoulders soft and elbows slightly below your keyboard.
  3. Position your knees so they are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Keep your feet flat on the floor

While yoga balls can make a world of difference for sitting at a desk, it should be done safely and in moderation. We recommend consulting a doctor if you have any back issues and want to incorporate yoga balls into your routine.

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