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Proper Pressure for Exercise Ball

author image Teresa Bergen
Teresa Bergen writes about fitness, health, yoga, travel and the arts. She is the author of "Vegetarian Asia Travel Guide" and has written hundreds of articles for publications online and off. Bergen also teaches yoga, spinning and group fitness classes, and is an ACE-certified personal trainer.
Proper Pressure for Exercise Ball
For safety, never over-inflate your exercise ball. Photo Credit Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Whatever you call the ball -- stability, Swiss, therapy or exercise ball – most gyms have at least a few. They’re also a common feature of home workout areas. Versatile and portable, this piece of exercise equipment poses hazards when improperly inflated. After fielding dozens of reports from people who fractured bones falling off stability balls, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled millions of balls. But if you follow basic rules about the proper pressure for exercise balls, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Initial Inflation

If you buy an exercise ball at a store or order it online, chances are it will arrive at your home un-inflated. Once you remove it from the box, lay it flat on your floor with the air hole open. Exercise balls are temperature-sensitive. The ball should be room temperature, and the room should be between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. While it’s possible to fill the exercise ball with your lungs, using a small pump is easier. Sometimes you can purchase a hand pump with the ball.

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Mark the Wall

Common sizes of exercise balls are 22, 26 or 30 inches. Smaller people need smaller exercise balls, while tall folks will want the biggest. Once you know the size of your exercise ball, you can approximate the proper pressure by making a pencil mark on your wall at the right height. Then pump your ball up until it reaches the mark. Do not go over the stated height; over-inflation is when accidents happen.

The Sit Test

The correct height is not the last word on proper pressure. To be sure you’ve attained optimal pressure, you need to sit on the ball. The ball should have about 2 inches of give; when you sit, you should sink a little. Your legs should be at or just slightly more than a 90-degree angle.

Prevent Explosions

Aside from sudden contact with sharp objects, the surest way to explode your exercise ball is a combination of over-inflation and too much weight. Most exercise balls hold about 300 lbs. But remember that bouncing on your exercise ball equals extra pounds of pressure. As does doing chest presses or other exercises that combine dumbbells with the exercise ball.

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