The Bender Ball is a small, soft, inflatable fitness ball used to increase the range of motion in abdominal and core exercises. The increase in range of motion helps to strengthen the deep muscles of the abdominals, including the transverse abdominis and obliques, as well as the muscles in the lower back.
Using the ball behind the lower back offers support as well as helps you deepen the muscle engagement in the tranverse abdominis, obliques and rectus abdominis. Start in a seated position with the soles of the feet on the floor and the knees bent. Lengthen the spine and place the bender ball behind your lower back. Draw the navel into the spine, tuck the tailbone under and hollow the chest. The hands can stay on the back of the thighs with the elbows high. Slowly lean back about an inch and then lift back to the starting point. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
Bridge Pose with Ball under toes
The bender ball can also help increase the abdominal strength in bridge pose by challenging your balance and deepening the engagement of the core. Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor, directly under your knees. Squeeze your legs together as you slide the ball under your toes. Keep your palms pressing into the ground by the hips. Scoop your tailbone and roll up the spine. Push your toes into the ball and engage your core to keep the body steady as you lift. Hold for five to 10 breaths, then slowly lower back to the starting position.
The bender ball can also help increase the range of motion during side crunches, which increase the strength in your obliques. Lie on your left side with the bender ball under you, between your rib cage and waist. Stagger your legs and keep your hips stacked. Bring your top hand behind your head with your elbow pointing toward the ceiling. Reach the bottom hand around your front to reach your right side and Inhale. Exhale as you squeeze your rib cage and waist together, lifting your head off the mat. Inhale to lower. Repeat 10 to 12 times before switching sides.
The bender ball can give you a larger range of motion and offers lower-back support in full crunches. This will help to target the muscles of the abdominal wall and engage them more fully. Lie on your back with the ball behind your lower back. Bring your hands behind your head with the elbows wide. Your knees can be bent with the soles of your feet on the ground. Inhale here, then exhale, peeling your head, shoulders and mid back off the ground. allow your lower back to stay supported by the ball with the tailbone tucked and the navel drawing into the spine. Inhale to lower back down. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
Jessi Andricks is a yoga teacher, personal trainer, and group fitness instructor. Andricks is also a certified green living expert and Health Coach. She combines her expertise in these areas of to help people learn to live healthy, energetic lives.