This is me doing a "pointer" on a stability ball.
The cool thing about
"functional training" is that the initial equipment isn't too expensive, and you
get great results in a short amount of time. In fact, you don't really
need any special "equipment" because you can do many quality exercises with body
weight alone! Remember, the best "free weight" is your body weight.
However, if you want a few toys and tools, here's what I recommend to get you started.
Where Do You Get
You can't buy quality
training equipment in some areas, so will need to go on-line. I order most of my equipment
PerformBetter.Com which is the best functional equipment company I have
I recommend PerformBetter
High-Quality Fitness Equipment!
If I had only
about $25.00 to spend on one piece of equipment this would be it! The
stability ball is cheap, fun, and highly effective. It can be used for
beginner exercises or advanced sport performance exercises. General size
guidelines are below. I use the higher quality balls that are burst
resistant--it's worth the extra cost for the added safety.
Stability Ball Size Guidelines
5'8" or shorter = 55 cm
5'8"+ = 65 cm
*These are "general" guidelines.
I'm 6'0" but fit better on the 55cm. You want a 90°
knee angle when sitting on top of the ball with
feet flat on the ground. Hint: Pump ball up "firm" (not hard!) for best results.
Next to stability balls, simple exercise tubing (or bands) in a few
different resistances are hard to beat for functional, core, balance,
and "fun" training. I only use JC
"All-Purpose" Exercise Bands from
Perform Better because of their higher quality. You can
find cheaper ones at chain stores, but you get what you pay for, and I
don't want to end up on my butt when I yank and stretch!
These are weighted balls that are great for core work. The
old-school balls were made of leather, but some of today's medicine
balls are made for throwing.
Therapy Tools for Self-Help:
*I'm currently working on a PDF
handout to summarize all the tools below. The handout will have small photos of
each tool, but my
Therapy Tool web section has more comments plus links on usage. I'm
building some pages on how to use each tool as well...stay tuned...
Thanks for your interest in
"self-help" healing! -RJ
This $25 "FootLog" can likely fix Plantar Fasciitis in days not months!
Bands: Used for increasing hip stability and decreasing knee injury.
(1' Long) Used for soft tissue regeneration and
Biofoam Roller: (1' Long,
1/2 Round) Used for Z-Health Toe Pulls.
(1' Long) Used for soft tissue regeneration and
Blade: (Core X-Trainer) Used for shoulder stabilization and rehab plus some core training. I prefer the
shorter sport version, but they also are available in both shorter and longer
Cathe Weighted Fitness Ball:
(2 lb.) Works
perfectly for doing the Z-Health "Toe Pull" foot/ankle drills. Also nice for
people that cannot grip a standard dumbbell or metal object as they are more
comfortable to hold.
(STD 5" Gripper 2 lb.) Specialized weighted exercise
ball that is filled with sand. I don't use it for exercise though--I
use it for trigger point release in the spine areas. It's the best
ball I've found for helping back pain from trigger point release. If you
need a smaller ball, use a lacrosse ball.
Weights: (4 lb.) I use
"Sea Pearl" soft diving weights to teach people the Turkish Get Up for
rehabilitative and corrective purposes. The soft weight is less
threatening than the kettlebell for beginners but heavy enough to provide
feedback on the vertical line needed for the extended arm overhead. I prefer
them over a light KB or shoe that other people use to
Dynamic Warm-Up/Joint Mobility: I'm a firm
believer in performing DAILY dynamic joint mobility exercises as part of
your self-help therapy--it's absolutely THE BEST preventative measure you
can use to keep moving well and aging well. While not actually a "tool," if
you do daily joint mobility exercises, you might not even need the tools on
FlexBar: Thick rubber cylinders that
come in various resistance levels and used for gripping and
twisting exercises helpful for tennis elbow rehab.
Amazing tool for fixing Plantar Fasciitis and improving
neurological function in your feet--especially for diabetics. One of the
best therapy tools that I have found.
Indian Clubs: Ancient
fitness tools for Increasing wrist, elbow, shoulder mobility and strength.
Great rehab tool for increasing ankle mobility
and stability when used with the air disc under the flat board. There are many
other fitness applications for the INDO Board too, but I think they can be a great tool
for ankle rehab specifically.
While normally thought of as fitness tools, KBs are
also great rehab and corrective purposes when used properly.
Lacrosse Ball: Great for smaller
areas needing trigger point release. Commonly found at
sporting goods stores. They are larger than a golf ball but smaller than a
Specialized handles made by a physical therapist
for the rehab of tennis elbow type conditions. The unique shape of the handles
allow for "multiple vector" training angles. I've
used them with numerous clients, and most get favorable results with elbow
This looks like a small tea pot that you use to "back
flush" your sinus cavities--a strange sensation indeed! However, nearly
everyone I know with allergy problems that uses it fixes their issues.
Physio Roll: These are oval-shaped
stability balls also called "Peanut" balls. Their oblong shape makes them
more stable than round balls and thus safer for certain populations. They are
difficult to find now, so I don't have an active link.
The best tool I've found for deep stretching of calf
Simple idea and extremely effective for deep
allow you to "slide" into extended ranges of motion. They
also allow you to get into positions that you could never get into without a
sliding option. These can be helpful for certain problem areas that
are hard to reach with standard stretching or when working alone without anyone
to help position your body. To save money, the old fashioned "furniture slides"
are basically the same thing for much cheaper. You can find the cheaper versions
at Lowe's, etc. The official fitness versions are called "Valslides."
for spinal extension and shoulder extension.
Many will lay on top of the ball "face up" the gently extend their spine
backwards over the ball to stretch. You can add a shoulder stretch too by
reaching arms out--they work even better for shoulders if you change arm
positions like positions on a clock. The ball is unique in that it is off
the floor which allows for more extension but while offering support.
Unique looking manual stretch device created by
two industrial mechanics. It works great to stretch your shoulder in positions
impossible to reach by yourself. Leverage design makes it possible to add
significant stretch resistance with very little manual pressure.
The Stick Massage Tool:
Great for trigger point release and general tissue
Another odd looking tool that works great for reaching areas previously
impossible to reach by yourself. You can reach ANY spot on your body for
precise and deep trigger point release--low back, mid back, between shoulder
blades, glutes, or anywhere else. The leverage design makes it possible to
apply significant pressure with very little force.
TRX Suspension Trainer: Great for assisted stretching through
dynamic movements especially in shoulders.
Vibram Five Fingers:
Yes--I know this is like a "shoe" of sorts,
but they work great for rehab purposes when it comes to fixing your feet!
Just wearing these alone can fix many strength and neurological problems in your
feet which can then help you to walk and move better in general.
Yoga Strap: Simple tool for assisted stretching of hamstrings,
groin, etc. Commonly found at many sporting good stores or yoga studios.
They have fancy
Stretch Straps too that are similar but have looped handles along the
Toes: Strange "toe spacing" devices that help pry your toes apart
and restore natural spacing between the bones of your feet. They actually work
quite well once you get them on your toes. Many shoes "compact the
spacing" between your toes like high heels, western boots, etc. Your feet
do not like cramped toes! Feet work much better when the toes can spread
out and better stabilize the body above.
Other Special Fitness Equipment I Use:
Battle Ropes:The most
intense workout since kettlebells! The 1.5" diameter 50' rope is a good
Used for balance, speed, agility, and quickness drills.
SKIDLESS Yogitoes Yoga Mat: Helps with non-slip along with improving
hygiene to reduce gym infection risks!
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