As with many types of back exercises, there are some people who are not good candidates for working with an exercise ball. The ball introduces a significant amount of instability and randomness into what may be familiar floor exercises. While this can be good for working different muscles, it may not be advised in a number of situations, including:

  • During the acute (beginning) phase of a low back pain episode
  • Patients with specific unstable spine injuries or spinal disease that can be exacerbated by the movements
  • Cases where the patient's pain increases when using the ball
  • For people who are fearful of falling or who do not feel comfortable on the ball


It is highly recommended that patients work with their spine specialist when considering using an exercise ball to ensure the ball is properly sized and that proper form and technique are learned.

  • Exercises should be done in a controlled manner and speed; starting slowly and building confidence.
  • The constant use of muscle groups to maintain balance on an exercise ball may lead to quicker than expected fatigue, and patients may find that at least at first they need to do shorter exercise routines than expected.
  • A physician should always be consulted about conditions that can be aggravated by this form of exercise before proceeding.
  • As with any piece of exercise equipment, the manufacturer's instructions for care and use should always be followed.

As always, an important precaution is to seek the assistance of an appropriately trained and licensed health professional before starting any exercise program. It is also very important for the patient to consult a physician if his or her low back pain lasts for more than a few weeks or a month, or if there are any symptoms that cause concern, as the continued pain and/or symptoms may signify a serious medical condition.

Dr. Thomas Hyde is a chiropractor who retired with more than 30 years of experience treating spine pain and soft tissue disorders in athletes and active patients.