Swiss Ball Core & Back Strengthening Exercises (Basic) – Ask Doctor Jo

Swiss Ball Core & Back Strengthening Exercises (Basic) – Ask Doctor Jo

Hey everybody, it’s Doctor Jo. Today we’re
going to talk about some back strengthening exercises. So we talked a little about stretching
exercises, so once you get them stretched out and you work on it a little bit, the Swiss
Ball here, that’s what this big bouncy ball is, is great for working out your core, your
trunk stability muscles. All those muscles around here help out your back. So you want
to keep them nice and strong, nice and straight. As you’re working, you want to hold those
ab muscles in the whole time. You want to keep them nice and tight, but you want to
be able to talk. Mine are contracted right now, but I’m talking to you. And that’s what
I want you to be able to do. So the big thing with the Swiss Ball, is it gives you a surface
that’s an unstable surface. So, if you’re not squeezing those ab muscles tight, you’re
gonna kind of be rolling around everywhere. So even just sitting on a Swiss Ball, if you’re
reading a book, watching TV, at your computer, this is going to help strengthen those muscles.
The first exercise I’m gonna have you do is called a pelvic tilt. Now we talked about
the pelvic tilts a little bit for stretching when you were lying down. Now this one’s actually
gonna be some strengthening. The key when you’re on the Swiss Ball is you want your
back to stay nice and straight. You don’t want you upper body swinging around. You want
those muscles to stay tight to keep you from falling off the ball. So I usually have everybody
just kind of have you feet about shoulder width apart so that gives you some good balance.
Now the first time you get on a Swiss Ball, you might roll right off, so be very careful
if you’re starting for the first time. Get a friend to hold on to it for you. If you
don’t have anybody with you, lean it up against the wall so you have something holding on
to it. You can even start off holding on to it yourself and that will give you a little
more stability. So you can start doing your exercises like this, and once you feel like
you’ve got the balance a little bit, then you can let go, put them in your lap and that
will be a little bit harder for you. When you get a Swiss Ball, you want it to be high
enough where your knee angle is about a 90 degree angle. This one might be a little bit
low for me, but that’s just because it needs a little more air. But really close to 90
is what you want. So the first thing we’re going to do, we’re gonna do those pelvic tilts.
So what I want you to do is I don’t want you rolling back and forth like this, remember
we want our upper body to stay nice and straight, and you’re just rolling at your pelvis. So,
it’s a little provocative, but this is really getting those lower muscles working, moving,
getting them a little stronger. Remember, you wanna keep those ab muscles nice and tight
while you’re doing it. Now, when you’re on the Swiss Ball, you don’t wanna go all out
because you’ll be sore later. So start off with just about 10 in each direction. Where
you’re really trying to go to the back, go to the front. Nice and controlled. The ball’s
not rolling around. You’re not rolling around. Your upper body staying nice and straight.
The next one you’re gonna do, is then a side to side tilt. We call this a lateral tilt.
Same kind of thing, you want to keep your upper body straight, but you’re just tipping
your hips up and down. Just back and forth, get about 10 times. Then what you can do,
we call hula hoop or some circles. You’re just rotating that around. Now remember, you
don’t wanna be doing this. You want that upper body to be straight, but you want those hips
to be moving. Rolling them around. Then go back the other way. Rolling them around. Alright,
good. Now that those are nice and loose, you can start adding some combination moves to
get those muscles really working. So the first thing I’m gonna have you do, remember you
can hold on if you need to cause this is gonna be really hard the first time you do it. What
you’re gonna do is your gonna just take your foot, and lift it about that much off the
ground. You don’t have to lift it high, but you’re just gonna lift it off the ground.
And then you’re gonna slowly come back down. Now remember the key is control, so you’re
not doing this, cause then that’s not working those muscles. You’re gonna bring it up, a
little pause, slowly bring it down. And then alternate feet. At the same time you’re keeping
those abs nice and tight. Try not to move the ball around a lot. It’s gonna move a little
bit, but you wanna stay stable. You don’t wanna end up falling off. Good. So you’re
just gonna do that about 10 times the first time you do it. If you’re not super sore afterwards,
then you can the repetitions until you’re sore and then do 2 more after that. The next
step is now what you’re gonna do is you’re gonna kick your leg out. So you’re just kicking
straight out. Come back in. Remember you’re trying to keep everything nice and still.
Alternating legs back and forth. Kicking out. Good. Going back in. Alright. SO now if you
wanna bump it up a little bit, if you’re feeling pretty good, feeling pretty confident. What
you’re gonna do now is you’re gonna get your arms involved a little bit. So what I’m gonna
do is I’m gonna go back to lifting a leg, but this time I’m gonna lift my upper arm
up. And alternate back and forth. Keeping everything nice and tight. Keeping those abs
tight. Trying not to slide the ball around too much. Not falling off the ball, getting
hurt. About 10 times with that. If you’re feeling really confident and you’re like “Oh
that was really easy” try doing it on the same side. So now you’re gonna lift both of
them on your left side, both of them on your right side. Same thing, remember you don’t
want to be wobbling around, if you’re wobbling around, that’s what’s gonna get your hurt.
That’s what’s gonna make you sore. So keep those abs tight. Lifting back and forth. Good.
I’m gonna show you one more progression. There’s a lot of progressions, but I just want you
to start out with some simple stuff, see how it feels. Then you can check out our progression
videos for some harder exercises. The next one, if you felt like those were pretty simple,
what you can do then, you can lie down on your back and now lift your legs. Now see,
the ball’s moving a lot more. So you really need to hold those abs tight. Nice and slow.
If you feel like you’re having to bring your leg down too quickly, then you’re not quite
ready for the exercise yet. Just going up. Going up. Good. And then rolling back up.
Alright, so there you have it. Those were your Swiss Ball exercises for back strengthening
and core strengthening. Now remember these are really high level exercises, you’re gonna
probably feel it, so build yourself up. Don’t go all out at one time. If you like these
exercises, please click the like button, leave us a comment. And if you’d like to see more
educational videos or exercise videos, please check out my website at And
remember, be safe, have fun, and I hope you feel better soon.

100 comments on “Swiss Ball Core & Back Strengthening Exercises (Basic) – Ask Doctor Jo

  1. Sam French Post author

    Love this! You made it so easy to follow and understand thank you so much! Can you do a video where you are working to tone your butt possibly?

  2. Amanda Simpson Post author

    Thanks Jo. The exercise my chiropractor has given me is too hard so your video shows me how to start. Just sitting will do for me for now, I think.

  3. Angel Lovelorn Post author

    Thank you SO MUCH!!!
    This video is informative and EXTREMELY helpful. The advice is CLEAR, CONCISE and in my opinion, is better than A THOUSAND other 'starter videos'…and what's more, it's FREE!
    What more could a lady want?!
    Again, MANY MANY thanks!

  4. Sue Misiaouli Post author

    I fell off my bike and I injured my siatic nerve and I want to know if you're exercises with the physio ball are good for me ? P.s Amazing video !!

  5. Windmill Apparel & Promotions Post author

    Thank you for the concise, thorough explanation of the balance ball core exercises. I like that you not only tell us what to do but WHY we need to do it that way! I'm heading to your website now to  learn more. Thank you again.

  6. Marie Rios Post author

    Excellent video.  I just had microdisectomy surgery, feeling like I need some strengthening.  I am 5 weeks post op.

  7. Barbara Byrne Post author

    Great Video,I've got two slipped disc and always had a problems with my back over the years from an myself a ball and just started on it,struggleing abit as still in a lot of pain however I will do a little each day

  8. Free Chicken For Da Hood Post author

    I just bought one but how much air do I put in the ball? I want to do chest press with couple of 40 pound weights but I'm afraid to POP the ball…

  9. Simon Mcwell Post author

    doctor jo how many days do you recommend to do this exercises for?
    i did them and i felt that my lower back muscles where working out, i went to an specialist and he said i needed to strengthen my core by that he said my lower back needed more support thats why i had lower back pain so i really would like to know for how long i need to do this exercises for thank you!

  10. Lina Velasques Post author

    Hi Doctor Jo, thanks for the videos.  I have trochenteric bursitis on my right hip from running, I do your stretches from your video, however, would any of the exercises on the swiss ball flare up my bursitis?  I would like to try these and would appreciate your advice!!  

  11. KingOfServants Post author

    This is so weird. You look exactly like the physiotherapist I go and see. I don't suppose you have an identical twin sister that lives in Alberta do you?

  12. Dermot Ryan Post author

    HI.  I have lower back arthritis and am really struggling with a core programme that will allow me to exercise.  i am very active, but recently i am increasingly finding that my lower back goes into spasm.  Will give this a try. you recommend? 

  13. Lora Seider Post author

    Thanks a bunch! I just got an exercise ball last night cuz I have a lot of back, neck and shoulder issues so I really need to strengthen my core. I've been in PT/OT for almost 3 years on and off so I'm hoping this and your videos will be the key to my success!!

  14. sandra lawrence Post author

    i have ms and am awaiting physio i have to strengthen my core as standing long is a problem i will try your exercises and let you know.

  15. irfan ahmed Post author

    Thanks best video out there helped me use the exercise ball for first time i doid find it hard to keep my balance though

  16. Tiffany Shin Post author

    Hi Dr. Jo, 
    Thanks for the video. I found it very helpful. 
    My mom is suffering from degenerative spondylolisthesis (not serious though, her doctor advised her to start doing some exercise) and I found your video while I was looking for some exercise video clips. I know you have a video for spondylolisthesis but do you think this Swiss ball exercise is also good for my mom?

  17. Tinkertinkbell Post author

    Great exercise that I need. My doctor said I need to to core exercise to strengthen my back as I find it hard to get my back straight again when I get off the floor when I'm playing with my child.

    Question is does the size of the ball matter? Lol x here in the UK you can get different sizes I think the size was 55cm 65cm and a 75cm

  18. guardianretry Post author

    Thank you for the informative videos. I find them very useful in my core strengthening routine. Greatly appreciate what your doing!

  19. Stephen Garrett Post author

    'It's a little provocative' haha….. I'm definitely doing these moves when nobody is watching 🙂

  20. Poenaru Cristina Post author

    Can I do these exercises if I have a backpain now or I have to wait until I'll be better ?I take some medicines now.How many times I have to repeat each exercise?

  21. todd cranston Post author

    i thought you explained it really well, much better than a photo on a diagram thats for sure.

  22. Vanessa Obrochta Post author

    I sit at a desk all day at work, but work for my husband so I can do these, even the provocative ones 😉 Thanks for the info!

  23. JJ Anthonijs Post author

    This video is very well done and is a great resource for patients that decide to take their home exercises seriously and want to be sure they are doing everything correctly with the right form as they use the Swiss Ball.

  24. Pierre Kerbage Post author

    Thank you so very much for posting this. I found it EXTREMELY helpful. Will be doing these daily – but see significant improvement only after 2 weeks.Thank you again!

  25. Amol Dhapare Post author

    Hi really liked your video. I have bad lumbar disc prolapse so need to get my core muscles strengthened. .. t One question there r many different sizes of balls…How to determine which one is the best for me….

  26. Kim Lewis Post author

    Love your video and exercises! I have been doing many of them in various ways but never on the exercise ball, looking forward to trying it out and hoping to strengthen my core area

  27. Anna Ivanova Post author

    This is a great video! The exercises are exactly what I was looking for, something simple enough to do at my desk at work.

  28. Panagiotis Grigoreas Post author

    Great video! thanks. What if replace my home desktop's normal chair, with a swiss ball? Would that be ok for my back all in all, or is it recommended only for excercising ?

  29. msslayer312 Post author

    Very helpful video. I have scheuermann's kyphosis and need to strengthen my back and core. Any tips for me? Thanks.

  30. Lou Roy Post author

    thank you for this swill ball exercises, i will be sure to follow your site, exercises are useful, good explanation,

  31. Gaaloul Marwan Post author

    DoctorJo, I work a lot on the desk where I rest too much on chaisse. At the end of the day I feel bad at the bottom of my back. I can do these exercises?

  32. Tabby Post author

    I have a rotated hip that I can't seem to correct through therapy. everytime I do these type exercises, my knee and hip pop and crack (my ankle often does as well). My PT released me because there was nothing more to do. Will these exercises help or hurt me?

  33. Panagiotis Grigoreas Post author

    i lifted my son and had to stay in the bed for a week or so because of sudden back pain. After that i felt my nerves on both legs pinched for weeks, without getting any better. As soon as i started your exercises on this video i got better within a week!!!. Now after 1 year doing this regularly and similar lower core strengthening exercises, my spine is solid healthy and i enjoy playing volleyball and jumping and lifting my sons and all stuff at age of 47.
    Great great job Jo! Thank you so much for helping people. Cheers from Athens Greece to you.

  34. BottiNation Post author

    Would these be good to do if I have had internal snapping hip (psoas impingement) from an L-4 acute spinal fracture? Basically 2 weeks after the initial injury I began to get this snapping. This has been happening for 3 years.

  35. Beverly Atlas Post author

    Hi I like these ball exercises sitting on the ball. I can mostly only do chair exercises but think I will benefit on the ball can you lead to to more just sitting ball exercises? I have arthritis and Peripheral nephropathy so much on my feet is not an option and I want to exercise. TY

  36. mercedez tinney Post author

    i would love an extension of this video. the moves you did are awesome starters. i work from home and always have to be sitting upright, looking at screens, and hands at the keyboard. the next video would be great with more progressions or variations in the sitting up position please!

  37. Cee Jay Post author

    Great place to start. I'm a cervical fusion patient with a need to develop my core. I actually felt my abdominal and back muscles working with these easy to follow exercises. Thanks for posting such helpful beginners work out. We all start somewhere!

  38. LuckySixes Post author

    Jo, thanks for doing this.

    What do you think of doing Supine Marches as a way of working up to this? What do you think of supine marches in general?

  39. Calisia Kelley Post author

    Hi Dr jo. I'd like to see more stability ball exercises that help with back, hip and leg pain and also strengthen my core. Tmi alert I have a hard time doing ones while lying on my back because I'm very top heavy and it's hard to breathe.

  40. Sheryl Post author

    I'm confused by the ball sizes. I'm 5'6". What size ball do i need to have a 90 degree knee bend? Thank you from Maine, USA

  41. Abraham Gale Post author

    I wrote the exercises down and will start practicing them tomorrow at the Y gym for my low back pain, excited…

  42. whoooisv Post author

    This is great. Can I do this everyday? I have some atrophied back muscles that I've been trying to work on rebuilding for the past several months with some light yoga and small exercises. I know that a rest day is required for exercising, but is it required for this?

  43. Gail Garwood Post author

    I have a concave plastic "stabilizer" for my balance ball, primarily intended to store ball when not in use. I have used it to keep ball from rolling out from under me as I exercise. Is that defeating the purpose of the ball, even for basic exercises? (Purchased to use as a "desk seat".)

  44. rockbala Post author

    Hi Jo, I have coccygodynia (Tail bone problem). Can I use the swiss ball? If so, which exercises will help? Thanks.

  45. Raktim Banerjee Post author

    hello height is 5.10"-11" .in 2015 i had sleep disc on left side l5-s1 i am fit nd fine but for stiffness nd extension my doctor told me just lie on your back 5 min then lie on your fron 3 minutes on a swiss ball just for relaxation ..but the problem is which size is perfect for me please chose me to help..

  46. temanta koirala Post author

    Dr Jo, thank you so much for your useful video. Just wanna know is the swiss ball exercise helpful on healing lower spine disc bulge?

    Please keep on uploading such videos. Thank you.

  47. Gabriela Pérez Post author

    Dear Doctor Jo, Thank you so much! My son bought a Swiss ball and I didn't know what to do with it. Thanks!! Gabriela from Chile!!

  48. Michael Rogers Post author

    Thank you Dr. Jo for providing this service. I have been carrying roughly 30 extra pounds around my middle for 18 plus years. But the rest of me is in almost perfect condition. I'm the son of a 5 letter athlete, who suggested I try a balance ball to strengthen my core muscles and lose the weight. I've looked at quite a few instructional videos, and none of them were as thorough or easy to understand as yours. Wish me luck on my journey to better physical health.

  49. Tom Thumb Post author

    Thank you for the video! I will be adding these exercises to my afternoon routine.

    I will be exercising just over 2 hours a day. I am very gentle but how do I determine if I am over doing it?


  50. Jacqueline Fossett Stanford Post author

    Thanks Dr. JO!
    These exercises are helping me get back in shape! 2 years Cancer Free!😊❤👍🏼

  51. Alan Vollmer Post author

    I’m only 28 and I’ve thrown out my back twice in the lest two years. This video is exactly what I need to get back to a healthy state and reduce back injuries and feel better! Thank you!

  52. nubia Post author

    That last exercise isn’t to much pressure a herniated disc in the cervical ???
    I have 3

  53. Surfdancer Oceana Post author

    Thanks Dr. Jo! Fantastic stuff!!
    I used to teach these Swiss ball exercises years ago and Pilates on the ball but needed a light refresher – you’re a fantastic instructor, you havé a delightful personality and vibe. Enjoyed so much, I had to subscribe!!

  54. AskDoctorJo Post author

    Purchase a Swiss ball like the one used in this video here: (affiliate link)

  55. Monica Call Post author

    I have fairly pronounced scoliosis (a “family affair” so to speak). On one side I can do the exercises with nary a wobble. On the other side I wobble quite a bit. Is this normal for someone who has scoliosis? What do you suggest I do to mitigate the scoliosis problem while strengthening my core. I went to PT a few years ago and the exercises that I was given exacerbated the problem rather than helped than helped it plus they left me in terrible pain for days afterward. I also have severe DDD and stage 4 OA in this area. Your exercises don’t hurt me and really help. I just want to know if I need to modify anything or work on one side more than the other.


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