Now working in occupational and workplace health, I come across plenty of people who could do with more exercise either to improve their capacity to get back to work, or even sustain the work they're in. Some are undergoing treatment which might include fit-ball exercise to retrain transversus abdominis and multifidus, and every now and then there's the inevitable request to bring it work. The workplace brings other issues into play that may not have been considered though.
We recommend against using them as substitutes for chairs for two reasons:
- They are designed for exercise, and specifically to challenge trunk muscle function. So asking someone with poor trunk muscle endurance (common with back pain) to sit on one for too long and without a physio hovering around to check on spinal posture has every chance of making them worse. In addition the (recent) knowledge of supported sitting and a few other changes to workstation ergonomics and it becomes clear that a swiss-ball is not designed for anything except exercise in this scenario.
- A swiss ball introduces various safety issues – storage, maintenance, slips & trips, usage by other workers, and visitors (like children who love them).
This position is supported by WorkSafe Victoria.