While I don’t spend my entire day at work in a chair, I still spend a lot of time in a chair. I found that no matter how hard I tried to sit up straight, I always ended up slouching and was downright hunched over by the end of the day. Converting my desk to a stand up desk is not an option, but I had heard and read good things about sitting on an exercise ball and decided to try it out. First I had to select a size. There are charts out there suggesting what size to get based on your height, but in general those aren’t guidelines for using the exercise ball as a chair. I had read that it was a good idea to go up 1 size from the recommended size, and my desk is fairly tall, so I went with a 75 cm diameter ball. I was definitely happy with my choice to go up a size because any shorter and I would have to reach up for my keyboard and I’d be looking up at my screen all day. Having a neutral head and being able to keep your shoulders back and down are important parts of your desk posture.
My exercise ball came with a hand pump and let me tell you, it was a workout just to pump it up, and I annoyed all of my neighbors. I recommend coming in early or staying late to avoid bothering your neighbors. The first day I used the ball for about half a day and my mid back was already pretty tired. The first week was pretty rough, by the end of the day all I wanted to do was lean back in my chair and give my back a rest. I couldn’t believe how weak my back was! My mid back (thoracic region) was definitely bothered me the most, which made since because that’s where my back always collapsed when I was slouching. What I did enjoy was that when I was spending a lot of time at my desk or found myself getting drowsy after lunch, I would just bounce a little on the ball. This severed the purpose of keeping me wide away and as a bonus would get my hips moving and work all of my stabilizing muscles. After week 2 my back would still get pretty tired around 3p, but I found that instead of slouching, I would find a reason to get up and walk around when my back got tired.
Now I’m about a month in and I can last a whole day without feeling sore and I’ve noticed a difference in my posture while standing. My thoracic region feels much more stable and I really noticed that when working on deadlifts today. I find myself bouncing and moving around more which has really helped to prevent tightness in my hips, glutes and lower back. After this month I’ve decided that the exercise ball will become my permanent chair and hopefully I will continue to see improvements in my posture.
If you’re interested in getting your own, I ordered mine from yogaaccessories.com and I purchased the anti-burst yoga balance ball with pump. It was $30 with tax and shipping included. Just make sure you’ve taken a good look at your desk and your current desk chair height to make sure that you’re ordering the right ball. Also consider the fact that when you sit on the ball it will collapse a little, so you may not end up sitting as high as you think you will.
What methods have you tried to make your desk more posture friendly? Anything that you’ve kept up with or given up? Please share your thoughts to comments.