Using an exercise or Swiss ball instead of an office chair is a hot trend, but the jury is still out on many of the proposed benefits. Until more research is completed, consider these science-based reasons why you shouldn't turn an exercise ball into office equipment.
Gravity can be harder to fight, and fatigue is going to set in.
When you sit in a more traditional chair, you have some tools that make it easier to fight gravity and reduce pressure on spinal discs, such as armrests. You do not have these supports on a stability ball, so it's just as easy to slouch on the ball as it is in a chair, if not more so. Yes, you can engage your muscles and make them stronger--that's one of the reasons ball advocates push their use in the first place--but the reality is that gravity doesn't get tired. Your muscles do. If you ask them to work for hours and hours on end by sitting unaided on a ball, you'll trigger microscopic muscle tears and the buildup of waste products that can lead to inflammation, stiffness, swelling, weakness and pain. What's more, as you tire, you'll likely try to compensate by shifting to other positions that aren't as healthy and which can lead to additional muscle imbalances, joint strain and increased injury risk.
Every body is unique--Swiss balls aren't.
The human body varies enormously in size and shape. Swiss balls, on the other hand, come in just a few sizes (55, 65 and 75 centimeters). They thus are not an ergonomic choice for most individuals, forcing them to sit too low or too high when at their desk. The improper positioning can mean increased risk of injury from fatigue, joint stress and accidental falls.
Pressure and material durability isn't static.
Swiss balls operate based on air pressure. Changes in your office's air conditioning can make the air inside your ball expand or contract, however, which can stress the material over time and lead to a burst. Even if a burst doesn't happen, the expansion or contraction of the ball can mean the ball becomes less stable or ergonomic--and, therefore, more dangerous--for you to sit on. #DeflateSwiss at its finest.
Rounding It Out
Swiss balls can be beneficial as workout/rehabilitation tools or as temporary stand-ins for your office chair, but they're not equipment you should be sitting on for an entire shift. Switch to one for no more than 20 minutes at a time through the day, but otherwise, have your business invest in a solid, supportive chair that's fitted just for you. Share this with a friend or co-worker that uses one -- it'll really deflate their ball.