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Hum Factors. 2006 Spring;48(1):142-53.

Stability ball versus office chair: comparison of muscle activation and lumbar spine posture during prolonged sitting.

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University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.



The objective of the study was to evaluate the differences between sitting on a stability ball and in an office chair in terms of trunk muscle activation and lumbar spine posture.


Stability balls have become increasingly popular as an alternative to office chairs to help reduce the prevalence of low back pain; however, little research has been conducted on their use as office chairs.


The 14 participants (7 men, 7 women) were required to sit on both a stability ball and an office chair for 1 hour each while performing various computer workstation tasks throughout the sitting periods. The activation of eight muscles and lumbar spine posture were measured and analyzed.


Increased muscle activation in thoracic erector spinae (p = .0352), decreased pelvic tilt (p = .0114), and increased perceived discomfort (p < .0001) while sitting on the stability ball were observed.


The small changes in biological responses when sitting on a stability ball as compared with an office chair, combined with the increased reported discomfort while on the ball, suggests its use for prolonged sitting may not be advantageous.


Prolonged sitting on a stability ball does not greatly alter the manner in which an individual sits, yet it appears to increase the level of discomfort. Therefore, it is important to fully explore a new chair design and consult scientific research before implementing its use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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