Day in the Life: Using A Ball As A Desk Chair

In the ongoing saga of  “Your blogger is employed to use a computer for 8-or-so-hours-per-day and refuses to stand the entire time”:  I had a custom-purchased-for-me chair without arms which broke; I alternated between a standard office chair and my home exercise ball*; now I have a work exercise ball

And how, you might be wondering, is sitting on the exercise ball going? 

Until today, I thought it was going great.   Yes, a lot of the time I’m just sitting there.   But it’s also fun to pick my feet off the floor and see how long I can balance when I’m on hold, or to rock back and forth or bounce (slightly) in time to music.    

At first my back would start to feel the lack of back support after an hour or so, and I’d swap the ball for my standard desk chair.   The standard chair’s arms a bit tight for longterm confort – in fact, I tend to “feel” them on my thighs all evening if I sit in the standard chair all day – but the back support is fine, and swapping every couple hours works out great.  

After a few weeks I was regularly sitting on the ball all the time I was at my desk.   Sure, at meetings I’d sit in a chair, but at my desk I was on the ball. 

Which leads me to today.   Today, my lower back and abs are sore.  Even my sides are sore.  How’d that happen? 

Well, according to proponents, “the constant adjustment and readjustment that your body makes on the ball will work your core muscles — even sitting at your desk.”   The potential strain this can put on your lower back and spine is, in fact, why some ergonomics specialists recommend not using a ball at work.   The research I’ve found doesn’t see much difference between sitting on a ball or a chair, but it only deals with durations of 30 or 60 minutes, not a full day (or week). 

In this specific case, I think it was a combination of sitting in nice, stable chairs for most of the weekend, listening to music that makes me want to dance (or at least shimmy my hips) today, and not having any meetings.   I also think I will be using my chair a bit more tomorrow than I did today.  

 

*Also called a Swiss ball, fit ball, fitness ball, stability ball,  et cetera.   My home ball is rated to 500lbs; my work ball is rated to 600lbs.

19 thoughts on “Day in the Life: Using A Ball As A Desk Chair

  1. I have a yogaball as a desk chair, and absent the occasional ‘right butt-cheek falling asleep for no reason I can fathom’, it’s pretty cool.

  2. I use one of those to help with hip and low back pain due to pregnancy, and it’s been pretty good for me. That said, I never sit in it for more than an hour or two (usually because I need to pee; go go gadget pregnancy!).

  3. Don’t they make inflatable ring doo hickeys for the ball to sit in to stabilise it? Maybe that would reduce the degree of muscle strain.

  4. Heh, we’re not allowed to use those balls at our workplace because of OHS regulations, in case someone falls off.

    I have one of these: http://www.bambach.com.au/ – a “saddle” chair. It’s basically like an English saddle seat. I find it far more comfortable than a regular chair or even a ball, as it allows your pelvis and spine to be in a more natural position, and your legs aren’t compressed. There’s no need for a lumbar support because your spine is stacked correctly. You don’t have to balance like you do on a ball, but it does keep your core muscles perky. :) It can take a while to get used to but I found it well worth it. I was a bit concerned how my heavier weight might go on it, but there’s a video on the site somewhere of a fat woman using it so I was sold.

  5. I tend to hyperextend my back when I sit on a ball and try to work on a keyboard. But back when I had less furniture, I used to love to sit on a ball on the floor while watching a movie. I usually ended up doing a lot of rolling around on the ball in various positions, which was no doubt better for me than the couch-potatoing I do now.

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  7. I’m sitting on a an excercise ball right now! At one point my backwas sore, after I had been using it for sevearl months, but I learned how to stretch using the ball, and have completely corrected that problem.
    I find it far more comfortable than any desk chair I have ever used.

  8. FYI…in case you don’t receive the catalog already, LivingXL had two office chairs in their lastest catalog. One with arms, one without. The one with arms was rated up to 500lbs, the one without, 1000. The price in the catalog wasn’t too outrageous, as I recall, 395$ for the armed one, $299 for the other. Here’s the link to the one without arms on their website.
    http://www.livingxl.com/store/en_US/catalog/browse_sku.jsp?clear=true&catID=cat310188&prodId=X1417&id=cat310188

    If you want more info about the one WITH arms, let me know and I can send you the catalog in the mail.

    Happy sitting!

    Regina

  9. I feel like those won’t be good for your back. I use those exercise balls at the gym and an ergonomic chair during the day. It’s totally worth it. I got it at an outlet store too, and its in great shape. Have you heard of officedesignsoutlet.com, and I’ve never had a better online shopping experience.

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  11. I just got a ball to use as a desk chair at home. I haven’t used it for an extended period of time yet. I find myself sort of fidgeting with my legs a lot more than with a regular chair. I don’t know that I’m using my core muscles much since I seem to want to just lean my elbows against the desk to support my torso. It does seem more comfortable in some ways to be able to shift where the weight falls, instead of the weight consistently being on certain parts of your butt and thighs.

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