I know this has been a topic in the past and do not generally encourage sitting on a ball but I recently saw one on a base with wheels and a back support. I’m looking for research on the BalanceBall Chair by Gaiam. Does anyone have experience with these or any independent research on them?
Exercise balls should not be used as office chairs. They do not roll up under a desk without some considerable effort to achieve balanced seated posture. There is an increased risk of falling.
I have taken a quick peek at the Gaiam’s website, and their promotional video demonstrates in many ways that they are not taking ergonomics into consideration. The user is using a laptop without a docking station, and reaches across her body and twists her back to write on a notepad. Small directorial details aside, the BalanceBall chair does not provide postural support and the user has to put considerable effort into acheiving the picture perfect posture, as another reply has already indicated. Devices that try to achieve too much at once (e.g.: a chair AND an excercise ball) tend to work sub-optimally in one or both functions.
I agree that a balance ball is not the ideal choice for ergonomic office furniture. However, it does promote good posture and active sitting. 8-10 hours a day? No way, but a quick break during the day allows the worker to use different muscles and physically approach desk tasks in a different way.
As a former sales rep for ergonomic office products, I know for sure that an exercise ball is not a good substitute for an office chair. It has its own purpose and it benefits us in a certain way, but that’s just it.
Any sitting posture has advantages and disadvantages and all require rotation through standing sitting, walking etc. A fit ball, appropriatte chair, or kneeler provide varying degrees of support and are suitable for sitting or exercise in various amounts. I would tend to believe for many reasons that a fit ball is not a suitable office chair and is generally more tiring and offers less support and ability to alternate posture and the obvious OH&S considerations than some of the other options available.
To use a fit ball for 8-10 hours which in most cases offers less back support, ability to rest or rotate your movement patterns or postures is probably not the best option. My understanding is that they engage the core muscles and the constant small movements of the ball develop "core strength". "If a ball is used as an office chair" (which I am not recommending) It seems counter intuitive to stop the ball moving by placing it on a donut etc
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