Imagine that you are at the gym, perched expertly on an inflated exercise ball. This is not your first time using one, and so you are confident that you are demonstrating nothing but skill, poise and exercise-efficiency. If you are lucky, your aptitude is attracting the attention of those around you, and they are envious of your gym prowess. You smirk happily as you continue with your routine, giving the ball a little extra bounce with each rep. Then, from nowhere, a pop erupts amidst the silence, much like a gunshot in a quiet field. With it, the ball beneath you disappears. You are suddenly flat on your back, in pain and surrounded by little bits of rubber. Your exercise ball has exploded.
It sounds unlikely, doesn’t it? But that’s exactly what happened to Peter Royal two years ago, as he worked out with 150 pounds of weights and an exercise ball at his local YMCA. When the ball exploded, he broke both of his wrists and one of his forearms, and injured both of his shoulders. He has had, as a result, five surgeries and 18 months of turmoil. Royal is now suing the YMCA and the ball manufacturer for negligent practices.
To ensure that you don’t find yourself in the same position as Royal, you must make sure that all of your exercise equipment, whether at the gym or at home, is safe. This begins with selecting the right item. If it is an exercise ball, your best bet depends on your size. An individual who is between 5’1″ and 5’8″ tall should use a ball that is 55cm in diameter while a person between 5’9″ and 6’2″ should use one that is 65cm in diameter. If your weight is disproportionate to your height, you may want to choose the next larger ball, adjusting for the added pounds. Once you’ve obtained your ball, ensure that it is and that it remains properly inflated. A limp ball will not support you, and an overly inflated ball will . . . well, think of Royal. Check periodically for holes, signs of deflation or any other abnormalities that could leave you on the floor. Do the same, although looking for different changes (your barbells aren’t likely to deflate), with your other equipment.
Improper technique isn’t the only thing that can end your workout with an injury; improper tools will, too.