Dust off that exercise ball you bought during your pregnancy.
If you are some sort of superhero, maybe you’ve actually been putting your exercise ball to good use in the weeks and months since you stopped referring to it as your “birthing ball.” But if you’re more like me, that ball has sat in the corner gathering dust, taking up precious space in increasingly cramped living quarters, and occasionally rolling across the floor to taunt you.
A lot of us bought exercise balls during pregnancy and some of us may have actually used them. But let’s face it, all plans to use that exercise ball to crunch our abdominals back to their pre-pregnancy splendor have been sidelined by hectic mealtimes, living room toy explosions, and maybe even a career.
Let’s give the damn thing a little respect. It served us well during those final uncomfortable days of pregnancy, when sitting on a couch was torture and only bouncing atop a giant rubber ball would do. There we’d bounce like fools, rubbing our blossoming bellies in simultaneous wonder and fear, fretting about these new things called pelvic floor muscles and wondering if it was too late to save them from their impending doom.
It’s also where, in less anxious times, we’d happily bounce around in moments of calm, mentally choosing baby names and nursery color schemes.
If you are some sort of superhero, maybe you’ve actually been putting your exercise ball to good use in the weeks and months since you stopped referring to it as your “birthing ball.” But if you’re more like me, that ball has sat in the corner gathering dust, taking up precious space in increasingly cramped living quarters, and occasionally rolling across the floor to taunt you. For some reason, deflating it means admitting defeat. Here are a few ways to actually use it:
Use it as your office chair
And by office chair, I also mean place to sit and watch TV. An exercise ball makes a great ergonomic chair — you naturally sit straight and align your spine correctly to stay balanced on it — so it’s perfect for use at your desk, in your home office, or anywhere you need to sit.
If you work in an office with other humans, bring your ball to work. Ignore the funny looks. Feel smug about how your posture is so much better than theirs. Enjoy the increased energy levels, improved circulation, and better balance.
Make it your meditation ball
Bouncing around on a giant rubber ball is infinitely relaxing, as we learned during those exciting, anxious pregnancy days. When the world threatens to close in on you, simply plop on your ball in a quiet space, by a sunny window, even in the midst of the plastic toy melee that was once your stylish living room, and get bouncing.
Find a rhythm, let your thoughts wander, and feel your stress melt away. You might even find inspiration mid-bounce. I get some of my best ideas (this story included!) while bouncing away like a weirdo.
Actually use it for exercise
OK. So this means actually using the damn thing as you intended to over a year ago when you first inflated it. Better late than never.
Luckily, there are tons of simple exercises you can do on your exercise ball that are quick and easy to get those abs back into shape, ease lower back stiffness, and increase flexibility. Try doing basic sit-ups, twists, leg lifts, or plank poses. All of which somehow feel more doable on a ball rather than on your dusty, unvacuumed floor.
Soothe a cranky baby
You’ll probably feel more zen if you get to meditate or do a quick workout on your exercise ball, but if your upset baby is demanding your attention, give her a lovely cuddle while seated on your ball and soothe her with a good bounce. She just might drift off in your loving arms thanks to the rhythm, and you’ll be sneaking in a little no-stress core workout while working on your posture. Triple win.
Flip your posterior baby
If you’ve gone ahead and gotten pregnant again before making amends with your exercise ball, now’s the time to discover why it’s a pregnant gal’s best friend. Not only does it provide aforementioned comfort and relief, the exercise ball can help you encourage your little bundle to move into the ideal (anterior) position for birth. Your ball is also handy during labor, providing a comfortable place to rock, lean, kneel, or simply flop.
Fall in love again with your big, silly exercise ball. It’s versatile, good for you, and oddly relaxing. Just be sure not to fall off and get a plastic toy in the eye.