Swiss Ball Exercises For Seniors


As we age, the loss of muscle strength, flexibility, lung and heart function, and decreasing bone strength are a reality. Exercising by seniors seems to be decreasing for various reasons. These may include pain, lack of confidence, or lack of proper instruction and education. A very simple and easy method to improve body strength, balance, and function is the use of the Swiss ball or physioball for exercise. This article outlines basic exercises to improve flexibility and strengthen the spine, abdominals, hips, and legs. Before beginning these exercises, any concerns you have should be discussed with your doctor. It may be helpful if a mirror is available for you to observe your posture when you first start learning the exercises. Referring to the photographs in the article to make sure your posture is correct will provide safety and help obtain maximum results.


Abdominal Muscle Strengthening


It is important for your posture and balance to strengthen the abdominal muscles in concert with back muscles. Start with no more than 10 seconds per stretch working up to 30 seconds in 30 days. It is recommended that the stretch be done twice per session.



Sit with your back straight in a relaxed position.



Begin leaning slightly backward until you feel tightness in the stomach muscles.


Side Bending


Flexibility is important as this reduces muscle strain and backache due to poor mobility. This exercise is very helpful for maintaining spinal movement and flexibility. Sitting straight reduces the risk of injury to muscles during the day. It helps with maintaining balance. Begin by sitting in the neutral position with your feet spaced at shoulder width. Tighten the abdominal muscles and place your hands at the sides of the ball. Slowly bend sideways as far as you can go until you feel the muscles tighten.



Sit comfortably with your feet at shoulder width and hands on the ball.



Bend to one side raising your arm over the head with the other arm stabilizing you during the exercise. Repeat to the opposite side. It is best to start out for about 5 seconds working gradually up to 30 seconds per stretch by 30 days. Repeat the exercise twice per session. Repeat on the opposite side.


Spine Flexion


Spinal flexion gently separates the vertebra and decreases or reduces pressure on the disc and the spinal nerves as the nerves exit the spine. Our activities of daily living compress the discs and this exercise is excellent to reduce the pressure. This is the same principle as our spinal treatment of flexion/distraction manipulation to the spine.



Kneel on the floor using a mat or kneeling pad and gradually push forward until the ball is under your stomach and your spine is arched. Your arms should relax and hang down the sides of the ball. Gently roll forward and backward across the ball while relaxing. This exercise is to be performed for 30 seconds once or twice per session.


Side Rotation


Rotation is important to maintain vertebral spinal segment motion. Maintaining good muscle tone helps reduce spinal complaints.



Sit on the ball with the feet spread to shoulder width. Bring your arms up to shoulder height clasping each arm. Rotate slowly in one direction and then the other. Begin with 5 repetitions each direction up to 20 repetitions in 30 days.


Maintain A Regular Exercise Program


The use of the Swiss ball or physioball is a convenient method to maintain spinal health. This allows the participant to exercise in the privacy of his or her own home with very little cost involved. It is important to have a regular and structured exercise protocol. Initially, begin slowly with limited time as outlined. After a few days add a few extra seconds or repetitions to the exercise. Ideally you should reach the maximum recommendations by 30 days after beginning the exercise program. To maintain your gains, it is recommended that this routine be done 4 times per week after the first 30 days of daily exercise. Never try to work through the pain. Only go to the point of pain and stop. You may find with continual exercise the pain will reduce and your motion will improve. Realistically, the senior patient is not going to be as flexible or strong as a young adult. The ultimate goal of this exercise program is to obtain maximum strength, function, and stability as we age.


The doctors at Coon Rapids Chiropractic Office have experience in exercise recommendations for the senior patient.


Coon Rapids Chiropractic Office

Call for an appointment : (763) 755-4300


The International Academy of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine