Gaiam Ultimate Balance Ball Chair review
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I'm in possession of a pretty messed up back. This doesn't bode well for me as someone who sits at a desk all day, so I'm constantly on the hunt for products that make me feel a little more comfortable, or at least a little less terrible.
You may have caught the article I wrote about the BetterBack, a posture corrector made famous by its appearance on "Shark Tank" (and kept famous by how well it works). I love this gadget because it essentially forces my back into a properly aligned position, so I don't have to engage my core or do anything special to reduce my back pain.
But I'm here to tell you about something that has made sitting at my desk, well...kind of fun!
The most recent product I've tested to deal with discomfort is the Gaiam Ultimate Balance Ball chair (.98). Though it takes some effort on my part to keep my spine aligned, it has also helped with my discomfort and made sitting at my desk less of a daily stressor. Plus, I can use it in combination with the BetterBack to force myself to maintain proper posture if I find myself slouching on the chair during the day.
The Ultimate Balance Ball chair is one of the newest in Gaiam's line of balance ball chairs, all designed to help you engage your core, improve your posture, and "energize you" as you sit at your desk. An important thing to note here, though, is that it doesn't just do this for you automatically — you have to put some effort into it. There's nothing about the chair that forces proper posture — in that you can still physically slouch if you want to — but it does provide an ergonomic base that subtlyremindsyou to engage your core and straighten up.
The setup of the ball is pretty straightforward — you just have to assemble the base and fill the ball with air using an included pump. The ball comes off the wheeled base so you can use it for actual exercise, but I just use it to sit on. A few of the five wheels feature locks on them so you can stay perfectly in place, though I haven't had to engage the locking mechanisms at all (for reference, I have carpet underneath my chair).
I'll admit, I didn't really know what the brand meant when they claimed the chair had "energizing" powers, but after sitting in it, I kind of get it. Because the chair is so easy to wiggle around and stretch on, it gives you a playful, almost childlike sensory experience. Though the ball is supported by a base and back rest that keeps it in place, I can easily recall the feeling of bouncing around on one just like it as a kid.
The one disadvantage to this model is that in order to adjust the height of the chair, you have to either pump or deflate the ball until you get it just right — there's no simple way to adjust the height of the base otherwise. This became a bit of an issue for me after testing out the ball while wearing different types of shoes over the course of a few weeks. I will say it's a lot more comfortable to use the ball when you're wearing sneakers, flats, or anything without a tall heel, and that you might want to adjust the ball based on the shoes you're wearing.
Overall, I can't say the balance ball chair has fixed my back problems or completely changed my life, but I can say that it's a fun and comfortable way to sit at work.
I would highly recommend it to anyone who works from a home office specifically because it would be super easy to take stretch breaks using the balance ball. I can't really lay backwards over my chair in the Business Insider office, but I'd definitely do it at home where I'm not at risk of our CEO walking by.
Video: Should I Use A Stability Ball Chair At Work? | Dr Alex Ritza | Downtown Toronto Chiropractor
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