If you’re looking into purchasing an exercise ball, a balance ball or a stability ball for your home office or gym, you’re probably wondering what the difference is between the three. Well, according to SportsRec, there isn’t one. Stability balls and exercise balls are essentially the same thing.
You might also know them as yoga balls, balance balls, physio balls, pilates balls, or even Swiss balls, but don’t let that name confuse you because the balls aren’t actually Swiss. The exercise or balance ball was actually created in the 1960’s by an Italian, Aquilino Cosani (via Stack). Now, they’re popular all over the world . You can find them in a variety of sizes for different body types, and you’ll want to pick the right size for your height. According to Very Well Fit, you can test the size of the ball by sitting on it and checking to make sure your hips are level to, or slightly higher than, your knees. If you’re buying online, however, all you need to know is the height of the person who will be using it. 55 centimeter balls are ideal for people between 4’11” and 5’4″, 65 centimeter balls for people between 5’5″ and 5’11”, and the 75 centimeter balls for people between 6’0″ and 6’7″.
The real difference between exercise balls and birthing balls
There is one kind of ball that is slightly different from the average exercise ball, however, and that is a birthing ball. Birthing balls are intended to reduce the pain felt during both pregnancy and labor. To that end, they tend to be slightly larger than the average exercise ball for the sake of comfort, and often feature an anti-slip finish to make longer sitting sessions easier without slipping off (via Healthline).
Of course, there is more to do than merely sitting on your birthing ball. According to Motherly, you can rock back and forth on the ball to realign the pelvis, position one one on a bed and lean against it to take the weight off the lower back, and even lean against it while on all fours both to reduce pain and to help speed up dilation. In fact, according to a 2015 meta-analysis, using a birthing ball was found to reduce both pain and anxiety in pregnant women if used before labor starts (via The New York Times). With so many potential benefits, it should come as no surprise that plenty of famous mothers are purportedly fans, including Khloé Kardashian (via Self).
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