Peanut Balls and the Benefits of Ball Therapy
Peanut Balls and the Benefits of Ball Therapy
The benefits of ball therapy are widely acknowledged for children and adults with a range of abilities. Balls are used for balance and co-ordination training, strengthening, gross motor and proprioceptive activities. Balls are commonly used for:
- To improve 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, however some users, 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.
A Peanut Ball is an inflatable therapy ball with all the benefits of a 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 providing allowing users of all ages and ability to use the ball with confidence.
The most stable part of the ball is the middle “saddle” - the user sit 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 (for example to give a child extra support and confidence on the ball) A traditional round ball can roll is any direction which can be too unpredicatable for some. The shape of the peanut ball effectively means it can only roll in one direction, allowing balance and strengthening work to be performed but in a more predictable and safer way.
This allows clients of every age and most diagnosis to benefit from ball therapy.
A peanut ball can provide so 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.
Peanut Balls should be inflated with a hand pump or foot pump. The height shown in the above 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 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 or 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 make increase the rolling resistance giving it more stability.
As a quick guide before buying a ball, measure the distance from the user’s armpit to the middle finger tip and match this measurement to the height of the ball (within 5cm). This is a good starting point and 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 users 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