I was first introduced to the therapy ball a few years ago whilst having treatment from a physiotherapist. One of the primary requirements of any rehabilitation programme is core stabilisation.
Core stabilisation deals with balance in the body. The ability of certain muscles to contract and relax at the right time with the correct tension are the prerequisite of core stabilisation.
The propiorceptors in the muscles and tendons impulse messages to the brain continuously telling it where the body is and what adjustments to make in order to maintain balance. The following story should help put this into layman’s terms.
Whilst working in a weights gym some years ago witnessed two guys arguing about which one had the heaviest bench press. They proceeded to adjust the key in the weights stack and compete weight for weight. One of the guys got up to two hundred pounds and this is where I threw a spanner in the works. I asked him if he could bench press two hundred pounds and he replied, ‘I just have’.
The thing is he hadn’t. These guys were working on a chest press machine. I suggested that he should have a go on the free weights. ‘No problem, set it up’.
Much to his dismay I proceeded to set up the bar with only one hundred pounds. I had to convince him that it is safer to warm up first. He moved onto the bench and gripped the bar. I helped him lift the bar off the bench and left him to complete his rep.
That is as far as he got, after lowering the bar to his chest he began to push it back up. Halfway up it all started to go horribly wrong. The weight was all over the place and our ‘two hundred pound presser’ was quivering. What they failed to realise is the fact that they had never developed core stabilisation because the machines were doing this for them. When working with free weights this attribute is developed first and foremost. It has to be, the body cannot go any further without that basic balance component. Imagine a child earning to walk. He takes a step and the entire body adjusts to compensate for the change in position. If he didn’t he would fall over, as we all do when learning to walk.
It is simply a process of trial and error.
When I first got involved in the grappling arts it was like learning to walk again. What we have now realised is that the core stabilisation in the many different plains offered in a grappling were out of sync. A new area of stabilisation had to be learnt.
Enter The Ball
When I first introduced the therapy ball into my classes my students laughed at me. Those laughs were short lived and soon mutated into sweat fuelled groans of muscular discomfort and co-ordination paralysis.
The following drills (on the next page) are a few from the many we use in our supplementary training session. Play with them and develop them to suit your individual needs.