In the past few years, there have been various articles suggesting the use of a stability ball as an office chair. By continuously activating the muscles in your back and improving your core strength ? sometimes termed “active” or “dynamic” sitting – it’s been suggested a ball can actually help to improve your posture when sitting.
Sure, we can understand how this may have some benefits in the gym, but is there validity to using a stability ball as a replacement to a standard office chair in reducing back pain?
A study at the University of Waterloo (Gregory et al., 2006) suggests otherwise. Their research indicates that prolonged exposure to muscle activation in the back can actually result in increased pain due to muscle overload, especially if rest breaks are not taken.
Over the course of the day, muscles will fatigue and the user’s posture may actually worsen, placing increased stress and compression on the spine.
Using a stability ball as a chair may also pose additional risks. Since the ball is not adjustable in height, it would be challenging for the user to position themselves at their computer workstation with neutral postures (i.e. keyboard and mouse at seated elbow height, monitor in line with eye height).
Further, the unstable nature of a stability ball (irony noted!) can increase the potential for the ball to roll out from under the user as they sit or stand.
Disadvantages of Using a Stability Ball as an Office Chair
- Muscle overload
- Height not adjustable
- Risk of ball rolling out from under the user
- No lumbar support
Your best bet is to select an office chair that has multiple
adjustment features, including adjustable lumbar support, so that
it properly fits the user.