Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Yoga or Pilates Balls for Stress Relief in Personal Training and At Home

Pilates or Yoga balls can be usefull in the relief of stress, however, there are two different types of Yoga balls and they are used very differently to releive stress. The first type of balls we will talk about are more commonly known as Swiss balls, exercise balls or fitness balls. They were invented in Italy in 1963 by Aquilino Cosani as a toy. He called them Gymnastik. An English doctor, Dr Elseth Kong and a physical therapist named Mary Quinton began using them for pediatric for pediatric neurological rehab programs. When Swiss physical therapist Dr. Susan Klein-Vogelbach, began using them for back rehabilitation and orthopaedic rehabilitation in Switzerland. In the 1980's American physical therapists brought them back to America and in the 1990's they moved into athletic and fitness training settings. They are larger in size and can be used in many different exercises, especially core stabilizing exercises.
The second type of balls that are sometimes called Yoga balls are the smaller massage balls. One popularly known brand is Acuball. Acuball was developed by Dr. Michael A Cohen,Chiropractor. Acuballs are small with rubber protuberances and they can be heated. Another well known brand is The Miracle Ball developed by Elaine Petrone, teacher, speaker and author in pain and stress management. The Miracle Ball is squishy, soft and smooth. They are also heatable.
These smaller balls are used for muscle relaxation, pressure point work and toxin release from the muscle through pressure and heat stimulation.
Stress is thought to be one of the most common causes of illness. One definition of stress in Miriam Webster's disctionary is: A physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation. Stress can result from either internal or external factors. Internal factors being those that are emotional in nature and external being things such as job, shcool, home relationships etc. Proper stress management involves reducing or controlling tension or stress in stressful situations by making emotional and physical changes.
When something internal or external causes a stress reaction, our body goes into fight or flight and releases the hormone Cortisol. Cortisol is a necessary hormone for our body and small amounts provide good side effects such as a quick release of adrenaline to help in stressful or frightening situations, lower sensitivity to pain, increased memory function, increased immunity and it helps our bodies maintain homeostasis. However, too much Cortisol, like too much of anything, can be bad. When our bodies feel stress and release Cortisol, we also need to be able to enter the opposite side of the stress which is relaxation. However, in today's society, with all the pressures we face, it is often hard to enter into relaxation.
Exercise is a great way for peple to release tension and get rid of stress. Exercise itself does release Cortisol for use in the exercises, however, the overall effect of exercise is one of lessened stress and tension. Exercise balls can be used for physically challengin exercises that will increase muscle strengthe and development while lowering your overall stress level. They can also be used to do Yoga moves such as Upward Facing Dog, Down Dog, Seated Stork, Warrior I, II & III, Childs Pose and others. Doing Yoga on the ball causes relaxation. The deep breathing and stretching through the movements will bring about relaxation of the mind and body.
Another great way to relieve stress is through physical and mental relaxation of massage. Massage, heat and pressure relax muscles and release built up toxins such as lactic acid and others. Even excess stress hormones can settle in the muscles and joints and massage can flush them out. With the smaller massage balls you can stimulate, massage and heat your own muscles by placing the ball under the tense or pained muscle and using your own body weight you can massage and stretch the muscle through slow relaxing resting pressure, rocking, rolling and rotating on the ball.
So in conclusion, yes fitness balls, massage balls, Swiss balls, or Yoga or Pilates on the ball. All of it can relieve stress.
Ciao,Laura FortinoBella Body & Mind of Huntington Beach