Yoga balls: not the solution for sitting at work (or anywhere else...)

 "It's like the yoga ball, isn't it?"
    I hear this often when people encounter our QOR360 chairs for the first time and are trying to figure out what sitting on one of our rockers might feel like.
    And, it's a good observation:  Both the yoga ball (exercise ball, Swiss ball, etc.) and our chairs are alternatives to the standard chairs that have caused so much mischief and unhappiness.  And both the yoga ball and our chairs allow sitting to involve moving: the term "active sitting" is an oxymoron that I like a lot.  But that where the similarities end.
    The yoga ball has been around since 1963 when an Italian plastics manufacture first figured out how to make a mold for a large, inflatable plastic balls.  They were initially used to treat premature infants, but soon caught on in Switzerland as a way to treat movement disorders in adults.  Yoga balls are now ubiquitous and are used to allow motion in athletic training routines, yoga, and Pilates.
    Because yoga balls are about the height of a chair and allow movement and because sitting still is bad for us it was natural to think that sitting on a yoga ball might be benefical.  Unfortunately, this hasn't turned out to be true.  As Wikipedia observes:  "There is no scientific evidence of those benefits occurring by just sitting on a yoga ball without additional exercises..., some warn against using a yoga ball as a chair because of ergonomic considerations or biomechanical reasons..."  So, while yoga balls seem like a cheap answer to the problems of sitting, they fail.
    And they fail for a couple of reasons.  First, because they are squishy, one can't feel ones sitting bones (ischial tuberosities) when sitting on a yoga ball.  Because the base is poorely defined, it's hard to align ones spine on top of a yoga ball.  Perhaps worse, when sitting on a yoga ball there's a tendency rock ones pelvis backward, leading to a hunched lower back and, after a short while, lower back discomfort.  Still another difficulty with yoga balls is that it's impossible to adjust their height.  Because the height of ones chair is critical to sitting with good posture, this makes yoga balls a nonstarter for most people.
    And yet we find yoga balls everywhere.  I think this is because yoga balls are very cheap to make, and very, very, cheap to ship.  But mostly, I think it's that people hate their chairs and are disparate for a better solution to the problem of sitting.
    We think our chairs are a much better solution to sitting.  Not only do our QOR360 chairs provide a firm seat that allows one to clearly feel their sitting bones, but our chairs also are adjustable (or come in different sizes), so that they accommodate folks comfortably of every size.  Yes, our chairs are more expensive than yoga balls, but almost everything of lasting value is more expensive.
    If you're like most Americans, you sit an average of 11 hours each day, so finding a solution to the problem of sitting is time well spent.  
    You're going to be sitting a lot.  Shouldn't you be getting a lot out of sitting?

-Turner Osler, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at QOR360.  Sit better.


REFERENCES

 

Clapp, Jane (2006). Working on the Ball: A Simple Guide to Office Fitness. Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7407-5699-3.

Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie (2007). The Biggest Loser Fitness Program. Rodale. p. 65. ISBN 1-59486-695-3.

 Gregory DE, Dunk NM, Callaghan JP (2006). "Stability ball versus office chair: comparison of muscle activation and lumbar spine posture during prolonged sitting". Hum Factors. 48 (1): 142–53. PMID 16696264doi:10.1518/001872006776412243.

 McGill SM, Kavcic NS, Harvey E (May 2006). "Sitting on a chair or an exercise ball: various perspectives to guide decision making". Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 21 (4): 353–60. PMID 16410033doi:10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2005.11.006.

  Gregory, Diane E. "The Use of Stability Balls in the Workplace in Place of the Standard Office Chair". Centre for Research Expertise for the Prevention of Muscloskeletal Disorders, University of Waterloo. Retrieved 1 January 2011.