An exercise ball crunch is a type of exercise performed on a large exercise ball. It is designed to work the abdominal muscles, as well as to help promote balance and stability. An exercise ball crunch is typically much more challenging than a crunch on the floor, because more of the abdominal muscles are engaged along the front, sides, and back of the body.
To begin, lie on the exercise ball with the lower or middle back pressed into the ball. The legs should be bent, with the feet placed flat on the floor. The arms may be placed over the chest or behind the head in order to support the neck; it is not recommended to interlace the fingers. Do not allow the head to fall back behind the ball; instead, keep the head and neck in line with the rest of the spine.
Next, consciously contract the abdominal muscles and curl the torso like a crunch on the floor. It is important, however, that the ball stays stable and stationary while doing an exercise ball crunch. This will require the use of additional muscles in the legs and torso. If it is not possible to keep the ball steady while doing an exercise ball crunch, it might be a good idea to do crunches on the floor for awhile until strength increases, rather than slipping off the ball and potentially causing an injury.
After curling the torso up, slowly uncurl it and increase the range of motion slightly, bending gently backward on the ball. This should cause a slight stretch in the abs. This stretch is an excellent way to tone and build muscle. Again, remember to keep the head and neck in line with the upper spine. For the smoothest movement, it may be helpful to inhale when curling the torso up, and exhale while releasing and stretching.
The exercise ball crunch may be repeated for ten to 15 repetitions; more or less if necessary, or depending on one's level of physical fitness. If the exercise ball starts to feel wobbly or unstable, it is probably time to stop doing crunches and switch to a different exercise. There are dozens of other exercises that can be performed with an exercise ball, many of which can help tone and stretch the muscles while increasing core stability, posture, and balance. Exercise balls may be purchased at fitness stores or most large discount stores.