By Mary Ann Wilson, RN
Exercising with a small ball is a fun way to work the feet and hands. Here are some small ball exercises designed by Sit and Be Fit television host, Mary Ann Wilson, RN. More information about the small ball that we recommend can be found here:
Small Ball Workout Objectives:
Increase circulation (feet & hands)
Improve inversion/eversion (feet)
Improve flexibility (fingers)
Improve ankle mobility (feet)
Improve sensory perception (feet & hands)
Increase dexterity/coordination (feet & hands)
Facilitate relaxation (feet & hands)
Improve strength (finger)
Develop proprioception (feet)
Improve extension/flexion/opposition (thumb)
DO EACH EXERCISE ON RIGHT AND LEFT SIDES.
Place the exercise ball on the floor for these exercises. Apply gentle pressure on the ball for a wonderful foot massage. (Exercises are most effective with ball placed on floors with thin carpet or no carpet.)
Place ball under arch of foot. Circle ball under arch several times in each direction.
Place ball under toes with heel lifted and toes pressed against ball. Roll ball back and forth from big toe to little toe. Keep heel lifted. Allow toes to spread apart and bend at the joints where they join the foot.
BALL OF FOOT ROLL
Place exercise ball under ball of foot. Roll foot from side to side over exercise ball, massaging across the ball of the foot.
ARCH SIDE ROLL
Place ball under arch of foot. Roll foot from side to side over exercise ball, massaging across arch of foot.
INVERSION / EVERSION
Place ball under arch of foot. Roll ball to outside edge of foot – lift inside edge of foot (inversion). Then roll ball to inside edge of foot – lift outside edge of foot (eversion).
Circle ball under heel of foot several times, keeping toes lifted. Reverse direction.
HEEL TO TOE
Place ball under heel. Roll ball the length of the foot from heel to toe several times.
Use one foot to move ball onto top of opposite foot. Massage top of foot by rolling the ball in circles and back and forth in each direction.
HANDS & FINGERS
Both hands work together for most of these exercises. Maximize your finger range of motion within your comfort zone with each exercise. Limit the number of times you repeat each exercise to 1-3 when you begin the exercises, especially if you have painful arthritic joints. Repeat exercises with each hand.
Place ball between palms at bases of index fingers, fingers pointing upward. Use the left palm to roll the ball from the base to the tip of the right index finger and back down. Repeat with each finger.
Begin with fingers of right hand pointing upward as in above exercise, holding ball in fingertips and thumb of left hand. Using left fingers and thumb, “walk” ball from the base to the tip of right index finger and back down (palm side of hand). Repeat with each finger. (Try to involve all the left fingers and thumb while “walking”.)
Place ball between the palms. Roll ball in progressively larger circles between palms, then progressively smaller circles until the ball is circling at the centers of both palms.
SQUEEZE AND STRETCH
Place ball in the palm of one hand. Cover ball with the palm of the other hand, placed at a right angle to the first hand (“clapping” position). Clasp hands gently and squeeze ball between palms. Stretch both hands way open. Rotate hands to opposite “clapping” position, and repeat.
Hold ball between pads of thumb and index finger of one hand – squeeze ball. (Pad—the fleshy part at the ends of the fingers and thumbs where the fingerprint is.)
Add middle finger along side of index finger — squeeze the ball.
Add ring finger – squeeze ball; add little finger – squeeze the ball.
Assume “thumbs up” position with one hand (fist closed, thumb pointing up). Place ball on top of index finger. Cover ball with thumb. Squeeze ball between thumb and index finger.
With palm up, place ball between the pad of the thumb and pad of index finger. Using the thumb, roll ball back and forth (side to side) 3 times across pad of index finger. Then, using primarily the thumb, roll ball across each of the finger pads to the pad of the little finger and back to the starting position. Repeat exercise starting with the thumb and middle finger, then thumb and ring finger, and thumb and little finger. Finally, squeeze the ball in palm of hand with all 4 fingers.
“C” FINGER FLEXIBILITY
Place the very tip of the left index finger on top of the ball and the tip of the left thumb on the bottom of the ball forming a nice, round letter “C” (do not squeeze). Then rotate the ball 90. (Now the thumb is close to you, and the finger is on the other side of the ball.) Place tip of right index finger on top of the ball and the thumb on the bottom. Release left hand. Rotate the ball 90 (Now right thumb is close to you, index finger is on the other side of the ball). Place the tip of the left middle finger on top of the ball and the thumb on the bottom. Continue alternating hands, using each of the 4 fingers on each hand.
ROCKING CHAIR FINGERS
Place pad of left index finger on top of the ball and pad of thumb on the bottom of ball. Using the index finger, roll the ball toward the base of the thumb 2 or 3 times (middle and end finger joints bend through a full range of motion). Rotate ball 90% as in above exercise, and switch ball to right hand between pads of right index finger and thumb. Using index finger, roll ball 2-3 times to base of thumb. Rotate ball 90 and repeat exercise with left middle finger. Continue alternating hands and changing fingers until all 4 fingers have done exercise.
FINGER WRAP AROUND
Place ball at base of index finger (palm side of hand). Wrap index finger around the ball and grip gently. Place the ball at the base of the middle finger; wrap finger around ball and grip gently. Repeat the exercise with all 4 fingers.
PALM TO KNUCKLE FINGER FLEXION
Left palm faces up throughout exercise. Using right fingertips, place ball on left palm at the base of the little finger. Roll ball around base of little finger to the back of the hand at the knuckle joint of the little finger. Roll the ball up the back of the little finger, applying gentle pressure with the ball so the finger folds in toward the palm. Roll the ball all the way to the fingernail, and back into the palm of the hand. Repeat the exercise with each finger.
GENTLE FINGER EXTENSION
Using the right hand, place ball at the base of left index finger (palm side of hand). Roll the ball up to the pad of the index finger. Gently press the ball into the pad, straightening the left index finger and bending it back gently at the knuckle joint. (Press gently, staying in the comfort range.) Roll the ball back to the starting position. Repeat exercise with all 4 fingers.
PALM DOWN ROLL AROUND
Place hand on the thigh, palm down. Using the other hand, roll ball lightly yet firmly over the back of the hand, in circles, across, and up and down. Roll the ball around the knuckle joint of each finger 2 or 3 times. Roll the ball lightly up and down the back of each finger a few times.
PALM AND FINGER STROKE
(Done without ball) Place right hand in left, both palms facing up, and at right angles to each other. Lightly stroke right palm with left thumb, by tracing small circles on the palm. The touch is so light it should feel like a tickle. Then lightly stroke front/back/sides of each finger 2 or 3 times as though smoothing the fingers of a glove.