Today I was chatting with a patient about some of my favorite ergonomic tricks to make work and school healthier and easier on the body. I’ve used all of these personally through my studies and found them to be very effective! Something they all have in common is balance training. Benefits of ergonomic balance training include:
- Micro exercises to keep your core strong without the sweat
- Core stabilizers train the multifidi muscles of the spine, so over time you will have less back pain and injuries
- Dynamic movements are fun for your brain (especially the cerebellum) so at the end of the day you will feel
- more ENERGIZED
- STRONGER (Use it or lose it! This is true for our muscles…but also our brains! Movement is one of the best ways to feed the brain.)
- SHARPER (the cerebellum activates the cerebrum and higher brain centers)
- HEALTHIER (the cerebellum speaks powerfully to the immune system)
So how do you use it?
It’s easy. You just sit (or stand) on it!
- Balance Pads make the ground a little squishier and unstable. This requires your brain and cerebellum to constantly work on micro-adjustments to keep you centered and balanced. It’s a great workout for standing desks and chefs! All you have to do to get the benefits is STAND ON IT! You can stand on it with or without shoes, but barefoot provides the most neurological input and proprioception.
- Sit Discs are like an air mattress for your rear end. You just SIT ON IT! It helps cushion hard, flat surfaces. More importantly, it requires your core to constantly fire with micro-adjustments to keep you centered and balanced while sitting. If you haven’t heard…sitting is the new smoking…so this little air pillow will reverse those negative effects of sitting. If you’re really coordinated, you can try standing on the sit disc as well or using two (one for each foot) will working in a standing position.
- Wobble Boards are a little bit more advanced, but prove to be a bit more fun! Their instability is greater than a balance pad or sit disc cushion, so they require larger adjustments and more coordination and exercise. I can imagine that a skateboarder turned 9 to 5-er would love this option as they can rock back and forth while standing at their desk all day!
- Balance Balls are great for exercise, yoga and stretching. But you can also use them for excellent birth and labor support AND as a replacement for your office or dining room chair! They’re more unstable and take up more space than the sit disc, but provide the same benefits and offer lots of options for a variety of uses!
Go slowly when you first start using them. Try sitting or standing on these for 15 minutes. Then removing them and taking a 15 min break. Over time, increase your usage until you’re always sitting or standing on them when you’re at work or school. (You’d be surprised what an intense workout it is to use these because while you’re on them it doesn’t feel difficult at all! You probably will never break a sweat!) Hours on end of micro core exercises can be exhausting if you haven’t used these muscles in years. So just like any exercise, you want to condition and slowly increase your routine.
Dr. Natasha F