***Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. If you suffer from neck and back pain, or other chronic injuries please consult your doctor before investing in a yoga ball chair which I will be reviewing in this article***
Sitting in front of computers in our office chairs for hours on end at a desk job is a reality that’s not going away anytime soon. And it brings about some health concerns like tensions and pains on the spine and back muscles, improper posture, and the feeling of being sore all over by the end of the workday.
Because of these growing concerns, a lot of workplaces (and schools too!) are changing and they’re replacing traditional chairs with standing desks, ergonomic chairs or yoga ball chairs.
As important as it is to avoid sitting for long periods of time, standing on your feet all day isn’t great for your efficiency and productivity when both your feet and your back hurt. And standing all day also comes with it’s own set of other health problems.
While ergonomic chairs are a good option, they come with a high price tag. And who wants to spend a fortune on a chair for a desk job? I mean, it’s a chair!!!
Here’s where the yoga ball chair, also known as a balance ball chair, comes into the picture.
BEWARE: Why You Should NOT Use A “Regular” Exercise Ball As A Chair
While you can get yourself a standard exercise ball to save yourself some bucks, here are a couple of reasons why you wouldn’t want to to do that:
Standard exercise balls are not height adjustable
- They’re unstable and can cause discomfort on the back
- They roll away when you’re not seated
- They don’t have back support
- They’re a tripping hazard
- They can leak and burst which can lead to injury
Why Should You Consider Switching to the Gaiam Balance Ball Chair
The Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair, which was developed under the consultation of chiropractor Dr. Randy Weinzoff, is the #1 best- selling ball chair brand chair for many good reasons including:
- Provides all-day ergonomic support for a stronger healthier back and spinal alignment
- Relieves neck and back pain
- Improves your posture and spinal alignment
- Strengthens your core as you sit
- Made from a stable, lightweight base (molded PVC)
- Latex-free unlike other brands
- Features rolling, lockable caster wheels
- Quick and easy setup
- Includes a desktop workout guide (for an effective low-impact workout) and stretching routine
- Anti-burst (burst resistant)
- Variety of colors to choose from (no boring blacks and greys please!)
- 3-in-1 product. While the primary function of this product is that it’s a chair, you can take out the ball to do some yoga or exercises.
- Cheaper than getting an ergonomic office chair
- Brand you can trust. Gaiam is around for a while and reputed for making good quality yoga and fitness gear, accessories, and apparel
- Stress reliever: plenty of happy users report that bouncing on the balance ball chair helps them manage stress
- As you get used to sitting in proper posture and it improves through time, you will automatically be walking and sitting in good posture all the time
The Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair is for people who are 5’-5’11″ tall and holds up to 300 lbs of body weight. If you don’t meet these requirements, don’t worry you can get the Gaiam Custom Fit chair instead (more on this one at the end of the article).
What Do Studies Say About Making the Switch from Office Chair to a Yoga Ball Chair?
After doing my research, I found studies which claim that traditional exercise balls when used as chairs don’t eliminate the pain and posture of the back and spinal alignment and also that they can further aggravate issues. There are mixed views from the ergonomic community and I think one of the reasons is so that you purchase one of their expensive chairs.
Because the Gaiam Balance Ball has been developed under the supervision of chiropractor Dr. Randy Weinzoff, these concerns have taken been into consideration. However, just to be on the safe side, please consult your doctor if you have occasional or chronic neck and back pain before you use this.
When I read reviews and anecdotes on Amazon, the general consensus is that most users of these chairs are thrilled from making the switch from the office chair to a Gaiam Balance Ball Chair. So when people claim that these yoga ball chairs alleviates their pain and improves their posture, then who are you to argue with them? Frankly, I’m not surprised this is Gaiam’s top selling product when I read so many positive experiences.
However, let’s be realistic and take with a grain of salt the extravagant claims of getting a workout and strengthening your core. Don’t expect to get a 6-pack from this product just from sitting! It just ain’t gonna happen. So while this balance ball engages your muscles, it’s a significant low level of muscle activation in the lower back muscles. If you’re interested in weight loss, check out my article How to Lose Weight with Yoga and Practice Yoga Online Anytime, Anywhere for some ideas.
- Once the chair is set up and you inflated the ball to the correct size with the included pump, for the first few days you will need to check and re-inflate the ball so that it stretches to its proper size.
- Don’t get rid of your regular office chair yet!
A few users people report that at the beginning, you may experience some discomfort but it’s because your body has to work its way to get used to sitting in a balance ball chair. They say that the way to go around it is to take breaks and switch between your office chair and the yoga ball chair. Someone also reported that leaning on the back support for too long may cause a backache.
For most users, I observed that the Gaiam Balance Ball eliminated their back and neck pains for good and that their posture greatly improved over time.
The Gaiam Balance Chair Ball vs. the Gaiam Custom Fit Balance Ball Chair, Which One Should You Get?
While Gaiam claims that the Custom fit chair is the “improved” version of the original, what’s really different is the design of the back support.
As mentioned earlier, the Gaiam Balance Chair Ball is recommended for people whose height is between 5’-5’11″ and have a body weight up to 300 lbs. And if you fit those requirements, you can go with either chair.
Even Custom Fit Balance Ball has the same recommendations, most users who don’t match up to the numbers in height report that the Custom Fit Balance Ball is a good fit for them anyway.
In terms of features between these yoga ball chairs, here are the differences:
- Gaiam Balance Chair Ball:
Adjustable back support bar, secure metal ball holder, and 2 lockable easy-glide caster wheels
- Custom Fit Balance Ball:
Adjustable legs and cushioned back with a stable, secure metal base and easy-glide, lockable castor wheels
Oh and before I forget, Gaiam also makes a Backless Balance Ball Chair which is the same thing as the Classic Balance Chair Ball, but without the adjustable back support bar.
Whether you choose the classic Gaiam Balance Chair Ball, the Custom Fit Balance Ball, or the Backless Balance Ball Chair, a yoga ball chair is a product to consider trying out if you want relief from neck and back pains, improve your posture, strengthen your spine and guard yourself against injuries. It’s also recommended to use this as preventative measure from these health problems too.
Just so you know, Gaiam is holding a 20% off sale on all active sitting products until November 9, 2016 on the Gaiam website. This is a great opportunity to save some money or start your Christmas shopping for a loved one. You can also score a great deal on Amazon.com
Would you consider switching to a yoga ball chair? If you already have, can you share your experience?
Leave a comment or question below.
PS: I respond to all comments.