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Benefits of Ball Therapy and Peanut Balls
The benefits of ball therapy are widely acknowledged for children and adults with a range of abilities. Balls are used for balance and coordination training, strengthening, gross motor and proprioceptive activities. There are many types of balls, including Peanut Balls, Therapy Balls and Therapy Balls with feet. Balls are commonly used for;
- Improving dynamic balance by sitting or lying on top of the ball
- Activities to facilitate movement and general gross motor coordination
- Exercises to increase core strength by working on the abdomen and back control
- Sensory activities such as applying deep pressure with the ball to calm
- Gradual introduction of increased weight bearing activities to improve muscle tone and strength
- Games and fun activities to improve cognitive skills and encourage cooperation
The traditional round therapy ball works well for all of these activities. Some users however, particularly children, may find the instability of the round ball too challenging. For these users the Peanut Ball is an ideal way to harness the benefits of ball therapy in a less intimidating manner allowing them to work and build confidence as they develop.
What is a Peanut Ball?
A Peanut Ball is an inflatable therapy ball with all the benefits of traditional therapy. The peanut ball is effectively two therapy balls joined in the middle by a saddle which is set slightly lower than the two ends. This makes the Peanut Ball more stable than a traditional ball allowing users of all ages and ability to use the ball with confidence.
How do you use a Peanut Ball?
The most stable part of the ball is the middle ‘saddle’ – the user can sit here or with their legs either side of the ball for stability and security – giving confidence. The peanut ball can be used for proprioceptive activities for those with poor body awareness, with the shape allowing the therapist to share the ball where necessary. An example would be to give a child extra support and confidence on the ball. A traditional round ball can roll in any direction which can be unpredictable for some. The shape of the peanut ball means it can only roll in one direction, allowing balance and strengthening work to be performed in a more predictable and safer way.
This allows clients of every age and diagnoses to benefit from ball therapy.
What are the benefits of a Peanut Ball?
A peanut ball can provide some many benefits to you or your child’s physical therapy exercises. Used effectively, they can help to develop and build gross motor skills, bilateral coordination, core muscle strength, postural stability, balance and much more.
How should you inflate a Peanut Ball?
Peanut Balls should be inflated with a hand or foot pump. The height shown in the table is the maximum height of the ball when fully inflated. Do not over inflate the ball to bigger than this maximum height. There should be a small amount of ‘give’ in the ball when you press on it.
Many peanut balls are anti-burst; however this does not mean they are indestructible. The ball can still puncture but will release the air slowly so you will slowly sink instead of crashing to the floor. This is a safety feature but will not protect against puncture.
Peanut Ball Size Chart
We have laid out some basic guidelines below, however we recommend that you consult with an occupational therapist or physio with regards to the sizing of your ideal ball.
- With the user straddling the ball on the centre saddle, their weight is evenly distributed and feet are flat on the ground
- Ideally the knees should be level with the pelvis creating a 90-degree angle at both the hips and the knees with the user’s thighs parallel to the ground
- The head, shoulder and pelvis of the user should be in a vertical line, with no leaning necessary to act as a counter balance to keep them on the ball.
The ball can be inflated and deflated slightly to adjust the height. The ball should be firm enough to sit on and should not exceed the maximum recommended size. A fully inflated ball will compress less and will therefore be less stable (making some exercises harder as the ball will tend to roll more easily). Letting a little air out will increase trhe rolling resistance giving it more stability.
As a quick guide before buying a ball, measure the distance from the user’s armpits to the middle finger tip. Match this measurement to the height of the ball (within 5cm). Once you have purchased your ball and inflated it you can follow steps 1 to 3 to ensure you have the correct ball size. We are happy to exchange your ball for a bigger or smaller size if necessary.
Height is the biggest factor to take into consideration when choosing a therapy ball, however the user’s weight should also be taken into account. Someone with a weight-to-height ratio higher than average will cause the ball to compress more when they sit on the ball – meaning the 90 degree angle at hip and knee may not be achievable.
These users should consider purchasing the next size up.
Adjusting the amount of air in the peanut ball will affect the size of the ball and the compression when the user sits on it. Inflate or deflate the ball slightly to achieve the required 90 degree angle at hip and knee. It should be noted that too little air in the ball can stabilise it too much making balancing exercises too easy and less effective, too much air pressure could make these exercises too difficult as the ball will roll more.
The recommended maximum user weight for peanut balls is 20 stone or 130kg.
It is advisable to check that any Peanut Balls are made from material that is PVC free and contains no latex or phthalates.
For more information on our range of therapy balls, peanut balls and gym balls please visit www.sensorydirect.com