Yoga Ball Chair: Purpose, Benefits, and Safety Tips

Should you swap your chair for an exercise ball?

Yoga ball chairs are all the rage. Countless websites looking to sell them tout the benefits of using a yoga ball (also called an exercise ball or fit ball) as an office chair. And some manufacturers have put out office chairs that hold a yoga ball.

But are they really good for your core and back, as some claim? The jury is still out on that one. In this article, you'll learn some things to keep in mind when considering a yoga ball as your desk chair.

Woman sitting on an exercise ball chair in an office
Blend Images / Hill Street Studios / Collection:Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

If You Don't Have a Back Condition

If you're uninjured or you've been discharged from treatment and have been doing back-strengthening exercises for a while, a yoga ball may prove to be a time-saving way to work your core. Core strengthening is used in physical therapy clinics to help relieve back pain due to muscle weakness and muscle imbalance. It is also used to help people with back pain increase their ability to perform daily activities.

However, if you have a back condition or are still recovering from an injury, using an exercise ball as a full-time office chair probably isn't for you.

Using an Exercise Ball as an Office Chair

A number of credentialed experts are not so quick to jump on the yoga-ball-as-office-chair bandwagon.

One study found no evidence that using an exercise ball as an office chair helps to strengthen the trunk or posture, even when participants first went through an "accommodation" program.

Any kind of sitting increases compression on your spine. Remember, the ball does not support your back muscles—it only challenges them. Compression combined with a lack of support may irritate any injury, condition, or muscle imbalance you may have, and will likely increase your pain if used for too long.

But if you've been doing your back exercises faithfully for some time, and a healthcare provider or physical therapist has given you the okay to work with a yoga ball, you may find that using it as an office chair in a limited way makes a good adjunct to your home program.

Performing trunk strengtheners while sitting on the unstable surface the exercise ball provides may even help you take your back exercise routine to the next level. Again, get your healthcare provider's approval before trying this. If possible, ask your physical therapist for some things you can do on the ball.

1 Source
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Jackson JA, Banerjee-Guénette P, Gregory DE, Callaghan JP. Should we be more on the ball? The efficacy of accommodation training on lumbar spine posture, muscle activity, and perceived discomfort during stability ball sittingHum Factors. 2013;55(6):1064‐1076. doi:10.1177/0018720813482326

By Anne Asher, CPT
Anne Asher, ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, and orthopedic exercise specialist, is a back and neck pain expert.