Ball Chairs - Do They Work or is it a Fad?

I purchased my first ball chair four years ago because I started to have low back pain after sitting at my desk doing paperwork and dictating reports. Within 30-45 minutes my back was stiff and I had deep low back Pain. Does this sound familiar? I knew it was form incorrect posture while sitting on my regular desk chair. I was reaching out for my key board and for my paperwork. I found myself bending forward with my shoulders, slouching and sitting without the small of my back being supported by the chair.


The back support is detachable (which I've done see picture above). This allows you to center yourself over the ball more. I found that leaning on the back support for too long may hurt your lower back. You will experience some shoulder and neck pain if you're use to having a chair with an armrest. Keeping our chest open and head up may help our abs stay engaged. Of course getting our regular chiropractic adjustments is a must.

It definitely takes a little while to get used sitting and balancing on a ball chair. The first few days, my back was sore and I almost went back to my old chair. It was sore, but it didn't hurt. I contribute this to using more of my core stabilizing muscles to stabilize my back. After about a week, I stopped noticing my back being sore. At one time or another we have all have heard how important core stabilizing muscle are in every aspect of our lives. In fact some of us may have even worked out using Yoga ball or exercise ball in the past.

The ball chair doesn't allow you to lean back as a normal office type chair, therefore forcing you to use your back muscles. I was using it daily at my office for about 1 month before I notice less and less low back, shoulder and neck discomfort while I was sitting and I notice that my chiropractic adjustments seem to help much more.  I also found at the end of the day my back felt much better.  The ball chair doesn't force you to have perfect posture, but it reminds you throughout the day to sit upright and to keep our center of gravity over the middle of the ball. After the first month, you will do it naturally due to the fact our core stability muscles are much stronger.

Be warned, you'll get a lot of funny looks when people first see it. I have new patient come in my office to have their initial consultation and they all comment about my chair in my office. I explain why I use the chair and almost all the patient state they think they need one to use themselves.

It may take 1-2 weeks to get used to sitting on the ball chair and build up the back muscles. I think afterward you'll thank yourself.


The instructions that I use in my clinic for the ball chair use are quite simple. The ball must fit the individual patient. I recommend sitting on the ball with feet flat on the floor and the hips and knees at a 90º angle( see below) I have been recommending to our patients that the hips should be slightly higher than the knees (approx. 2 inches). I also use the following wing ball vs. height as a general rule:  

A.  55cm ball fits body height 5’ 1” – 5’ 6”

B.  65cm ball fits body height 5’7’’ – 6’6’’

C.  75cm ball fits body height 6’2’’-6’8’’

man on ball

I instruct each patient to proceed with caution when beginning to use the ball chair and to only sit on it as long as it is comfortable. Comfort will determine the amount of time each day that a patient sits on the ball at work. Some patients sit on the ball all day and some for part of the day. A word of caution be careful of the rolling wheels because they sometimes causes the ball chair to shoot out from under you or trip over when you go to stand up. So, I suggest spreading your feet and using your leg muscles to stand upright. I also suggest locking 2 of the 4 wheels on the chair.

If you have any question about the Ball Chair please feel free to contact me. I hope you enjoyed this posting….. here to your Health.  

Dr. Brent Ungar DC, CCSP


4200 Munson Street NW, Suite B, Canton, Ohio 44718



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