Exercise balls are able to revitalize your workout routine. They are free from weights and come with hundreds of exercises which are relaxing or challenging. That’s why there are more and more people using these specialized balls to improve their strength, flexibility, and balance. However, the only problem is that many of you have no idea how to inflate an exercise ball properly. Don’t worry, in this article, I’ll give you a step-by-step instruction so that you can do it with ease.
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- Getting to Know the Exercise Ball
- Tips for Inflating an Exercise Ball
- How To Inflate An Exercise Ball
- Final Thoughts
Getting to Know the Exercise Ball
At one time or another, you might have walked into a gym and wondered what these colorful balls lying around are for.
Exercise balls are known by many other names such as Swiss balls, birthing balls, balancing balls, fitness balls, yoga balls, and Pilates balls. It’s one of those things you initially pay for but keeps on increasing its benefits as you find more ways to use it.
Originally used by physical therapists and chiropractors in Switzerland – hence the name Swiss ball – these soft, elastic, and colorful balls have come a long way since then with more and more people finding ways to use it beyond physical rehabilitation.
Some of its more popular uses include:
- As a chair to improve your posture and balance, as well as strengthen your lower back and relieve back pains
- As a piece of exercise equipment to strengthen your core and improve balance
- In birthing, it can help a posteriorly positioned baby to rotate as well as help the baby’s head get to the cervix
An exercise ball typically ranges in size from 35 centimeters to as much as 85 centimeters, with most brands offering different models in increments of 10 centimeters. These balls are made of soft elastic and are puncture-resistant. Some of them are even designed to deflate slowly in the event that it does get punctured by particularly sharp objects. This particular feature was meant to avoid possible injuries if you happened to be using the ball the moment it is punctured.
As far as expenses go, exercise balls are relatively cheaper than most other gym equipment and its value is multiplied by the different benefits and uses you get out of it. Unlike most fancy gym equipment, it is also easier to set up and use and it can last a long, long time.
Just keep it away from sharp objects and you and your exercise ball can enjoy many years together strengthening your core and building lower back strength.
Tips for Inflating an Exercise Ball
Inflating an exercise ball basically works the same way as inflating a giant beach ball—you get the air in and seal it all with a pin. However, that is where their similarities end because aside from its size, an exercise ball is also made of a different, thicker material than your typical, run-of-the-mill beach ball.
For this reason alone, there are certain things you must consider in inflating your exercise ball.
1. Inspect the ball before inflating it
Duh. You cannot expect to inflate a ball if it has a gaping hole.
When you first get your exercise ball in its deflated form, carefully check the ball for any glaring signs of damage before you waste your precious energy attempting to inflate it. If you find one—or several—take pictures to document it and send them to the manufacturer or seller. They usually have a return policy for these things, especially if you bought your exercise ball online.
2. Allow the ball to “normalize” at room temperature
Remember that your ball is made out of a thick but soft and elastic kind of plastic that is highly puncture-resistant. Fluctuations in temperatures during shipping could affect how your exercise ball inflates. Colder temperatures could make the material stiffer and difficult to inflate.
Take care of this problem by allowing the ball to “sit” for at least two hours at room temperature. This will help the ball adjust to the temperature of your location and make it easier to inflate.
3. Size, not pressure
Exercise balls are sold by sizes and not by the amount of pressure they hold. This means that the optimum air pressure and elasticity of the ball are achieved by inflating the ball to its right size and not to as much air it can handle.
Some exercise balls come with a tape measure but you can use your own if it doesn’t. Measure the ball’s ideal diameter and mark it on your wall. This gives you an idea as to the height (diameter) of the ball you should inflate it to.
Never inflate an exercise ball to more than its recommended size.
4. Allow the ball to stretch for at least twenty-four hours
Your exercise ball is not a beach ball. It is made of thicker, more durable plastic and you might find that your initial inflation results in a smaller ball. Don’t worry as this does not mean you have a defective exercise ball or they got you the wrong size.
Rather, you should allow the material in your exercise ball to stretch by inflating it to approximately 80 percent of its ideal size and letting it sit for another 24 hours. This time allowance combined with the air pressure inside the ball will allow the material of the ball some time to stretch before it can be fully inflated to its target size.
5. The pump doesn’t matter
Really, the pump you use to inflate your exercise ball does not matter. You can use any kind of pump you have available on hand. Because we are big on tips, though, you might want to steer clear of hand-held pumps as these can be a pain to use.
Some exercise balls come with free hand-held pumps but they can be a bit unwieldy and really difficult to use. If you can find one that fits, you can use an air compressor or electric pump. Electric pumps rule.
How To Inflate An Exercise Ball
STEP 1: Check The Ball
Before inflating an exercise ball, you need to inspect it for any damage. In fact, folds and creases are quite normal but tears or snags will definitely obstruct you from inflating it properly.
STEP 2: Let The Ball Adjust To Room Temperature
Allow the exercise ball some time to get to room temperature for a couple of hours. Just remove it from the packaging and then let it sit in a 20°C room for about 2 hours. This way, you can normalize the temperature of the plastic, making it much easier for you to air up the ball.
STEP 3: Determine Its Maximum Diameter
In order to determine the maximum diameter of the exercise ball, you need to read the manufacturer’s instructions. Once you get the recommended height for the fully inflated ball, just mark on the wall. This will help you compared and know when to stop inflating.
STEP 4: Inflate The Ball
It is best to use an air compressor to inflate your exercise ball, however, a hand pump with cone nozzle is just fine. Actually, a lot of exercise balls out there come with a hand pump while others don’t. Therefore, you have to check this carefully, or else, you may have to buy a pump separately.
Take the pointed end from the pump and insert it into the hole in the ball. Check if you need an adapter which can fit over the pump nozzle. Usually, the adapter comes with the ball and looks like a cone or cylinder. And if you already have one, just screw it onto the pump nozzle.
STEP 5: Compare The Current Height To The Suggested Height
If the ball is not full enough or too full, it can totally affect the quality of your workout. That’s why you need to make sure the ball has its proper size. Specifically, after inflating for a while, insert the plug into the ball and then measure it against the mark you’ve already made. This way, you will know whether you should continue or stop pumping the ball.
STEP 6: Test The Ball
Remember that depending on your bodyweight, you need to pump your ball differently. Therefore, even when the ball reaches its terminal diameter, you need to test it before using it.
Just sit on the ball with both knees slightly bent and make sure your feet are flat on the floor. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor which means your hips and knees should be level. Additionally, your knees and feet should be in a vertical line so that your knees and hips create a 90-degree angle.
This way, you will know if it’s necessary to release or add some air. For example, if your legs don’t create an angle of more than 90 degrees or your thighs are sloping downwards, release some air to compensate. If it’s more than 90 degrees, then just inflate the ball further.
Besides, try bouncing up and down for a while. This will help you make sure your shoulders and hips are in a vertical line. If it can hold your body weight, your posture can stay straight and everything remains the same, then you’ve pumped it properly.
Have you known how to inflate an exercise ball yet? Well, it’s not too complicated, huh? Fortunately, you don’t have to do this frequently since an exercise ball can be used for a long time without any inflation. Furthermore, once you inflate yours for the first time, it will be very easy for you for the next. Then, if you want to know how to deflate your exercise ball, visit our topic here.