I am currently instructing classes where all of the cardio and most of the conditioning exercises are done on a stability ball. I teach up to four classes per week. I have been told by a couple of fitness professionals that you need extra recovery time after working on a stability ball. I am interested to know if this is true, and if so, what are the effects of muscular and neurological overuse associated with this? Also, is it possible to over stimulate your proprioceptiveness as a result of this?
Recovery time is going to be specific to a person's level of fitness and the intensity of the training. What some people may experience with stability ball training may be muscle soreness in areas they have never felt before. There may be several issues that are related to the above. One would be caused by the use of many stabilizing muscles required to get involved due to the instability of the round shaped ball. The other would be related to the S.A.I.D. (specific adaptations to imposed demands) principle. When your system is trained regularly with similar movement patterns and load factors, it becomes somewhat programmed for that task. When you enter a new method of training, it stimulates new nerve receptors and different demands on the neuromuscular system. This is a good thing, especially when you may not have seen much physical change in your training routines. I would not think it would be any different than recovering from any training routine. Listen to your body and when you experience intense soreness or any pain, allow for adequate recovery.
Proprioception in general is the body's awareness of its position in space. Because of the nature of the ball (round), factors such as balance, body awareness and coordination will be stimulated throughout the training. With the introduction of the ball to mainstream fitness in the early 90s, some research has been done but, to my knowledge, none has been done specific to improved/diminishing proprioception. However, Dr. Jeanne Nichols of San Diego State University, published a study, "The Effects Of Stability Ball Training On Functional Strength And Balance Of Older Adults," and the study indicated that exercise training as little as two hours per week using stability balls is effective in improving functional abilities and static balance of older adults. In my opinion and with my experience training on the ball since the early 90s, I have not experienced any overtraining effects leading to my awareness that my proprioception was diminishing. In fact, I can honestly say that over the past 14 years, I have improved my ability to balance on a ball, and I also believe it has carried over into my ability to balance in real life activities!
I hope I have encouraged you to continue to explore the benefits associated with stability ball training.
- Nichols, Jeanne PhD. "The Effects Of Stability Ball Training On Functional Strength And Balance Of Older Adults." (abstract 1999)
- Siff, Mel PhD. Facts and Fallacies of Fitness. (1998 second edition)