Millions of us have sedentary lifestyles these days. We watch television or surf the Web for entertainment. And when we work, we do much of it sitting in an office chair at a desk.
Considering our habits, it should come as no surprise that chronic back pain and poor posture plagues so many of us. You can seek relief from a health care provider, such as a chiropractor. And, you can take matters into your own hands and check out fitness products such as the Gaiam Balance Ball Chair.
This innovative product promises to help improve posture and relieve aching backs, necks, and shoulders. It first came to prominence on “Good Morning America,” and unit sales have surged ever since. But does it actually work?
First, the basics. Essentially, this product is a chair that uses a balance ball in place of a regular seat. (Yes, in an office environment, it’s quite a sight.)
Dr. Randy Weinzoff, a chiropractor, designed the Gaiam chair. It’s based on the simple, proven idea that when a user is forced to balance herself on spherical object, such as a ball, it helps align the body’s spine and strengthens the core muscles that contribute to better posture and a decrease in back pain.
The chair comes with a support bar, but the owner’s manual advises against placing too much weight against the back support. It is included primarily to offer additional stability.
“Easy-glide” wheels are included, too. This allows for fluid maneuvering across carpets and other floor surfaces. Two of the casters are lockable.
The balance ball itself is comparable to other exercise ball products. It is constructed of non-burst vinyl. You can remove it from the seat base and use it to perform stretching exercises, or to do abdominal work, such as crunches. When it deflates over time, you can use the included air pump to restore its firmness.
A Desktop Exercise Guide rounds out the package. The manual details stretches you can do while seated, or using the balance ball exclusively.
This exercise product has earned mostly positive reviews from consumers. Users remark that the balance ball chair lives up to the promise of alleviating aches and pains in the back, neck, and shoulders. Once you’ve gotten accustomed to sitting on the ball, it is comfortable, too.
Negative feedback was cited in regard to the chair height; it may be difficult to adjust to fit your desk. Also, some users disliked the absence of arm rests.
Overall, if you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk and suffer chronic back pain and discomfort, the Gaiam Balance Ball Chair is an alternative worth consideration.