Improve Your Back and Core Flexibility With a Physioball

STACK Expert Chris Costa brings you two physioball movements to increase flexibility in your back and core.

Physioball Extension

A physioball—a.k.a exercise ball, Swiss ball or stability ball—is one of the best tools for stretching the back and core. Because it can conform to the body, a physioball allows the spine to maintain its natural "S" shape. Any irregular bends in the back can cause discomfort.

In most cases, stretching the back is limited to non-weight bearing movements. Weight has a tendency to compress the spine and make you adjust your form, which can be detrimental. A physioball does the exact opposite. It supports the back by letting muscles elongate along the spine, as well as through the core, preventing pain and inhibiting chronic back fatigue. The goal is to avoid injury while increasing flexibility.

Physioball Extension

When you elongate your erector spinae muscles on a physioball, you feel a loosening in the neck through the ribs and into the lower back. This will facilitate full range of motion when you perform upper-body exercises, and will improve your posture.

Muscles Targeted: erector spinae (iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis)

  • Sit on the ball and roll down until the ball is positioned at the center of your back.
  • Extend your arms above your head; your back should be arched.
  • Relax your whole body while focusing on controlling your breathing.
  • Hold this stretch for the specified duration.

Sets/Duration: 2-3x20 seconds

Physioball Holds

Lengthening the rectus abdominis and the internal and external obliques can correct posterior pelvic tilt by helping to alleviate tightness in the erector spinae.

Muscles Targeted: rectus abdominis, serratus anterior, internal and external obliques

  • Lie with the physioball positioned under your stomach.
  • Keep your body in a straight line and your arms behind your head.
  • Focus on a point straight in front of you.
  • Hold this position for the specified duration

Sets/Duration: 2-3x20-30 seconds

These two exercises work in synchrony to build a homeostatic core structure, resulting in better posture, improved flexibility, and increased center of gravity control.

Now that you have a couple of physioball exercises, it's time to take it to the gym. Always ensure normal curving of the spine and never bounce a stretch. A static stretch is meant to lengthen the muscle and increase its range of motion. Perform static stretches at the end of your workouts, when the muscles are most flexible and oxygenated.

Check out for more exercises to perform with a physioball. Here are a couple articles to get you started:


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock