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Do you need a wobble stool or a swiss ball ?

Updated: Mar 26

There are a whole lot of people who have been using Swiss balls ( or balance balls) while sitting at work for years now. They swear by them. They will tell you stories about the core strength they have built up over this time and the money they have saved on pilates classes.

When they are shown a wobble stools they scoff. Who needs it ? Wobble stools are for the non-believers. They are more show than dough and speaking of dough they cost up to 5 times what a swiss ball costs.

There is no swaying them. They are swiss ball fans through and through.

But if you are starting out - here is a review of the relative merits of swiss balls versus wobble stools wellington. And by the way we've got both so we've got a dollar each way.

Swiss balls

Swiss balls or wobble stools ?
Swiss balls or wobble stools ?

Main advantage is that they are cheap. You can get a swiss ball for anywhere from $20 to $60 for a high end one. They also come with covers so they don't slip on a floor surface. A Swiss ball allows for a wide range of movement but most users restrict themselves to front to back. They DO allow for pelvic presses (lifting hips and lower back) but the main claim for them is that they force you to sit with a straight back.

Disadvantages are firstly that they force you to sit with a straight back. The latest research says that movement is where the benefit or ergonomic furniture lies not in applying a brace that keeps you in one position. Secondly, they aren't great for twisting movement. Try it yourself ? It is difficult to turn and twist but this is an important movement for back health.

Lastly, the biggest pain for a swiss ball is the fact that they need pumping up all the time. Of course they lose air over time and having a pump and valve handy in the office isn't always that easy. On top of that they are terrible to store. They roll around and get in the way when they aren't being used and in a busy office this can make the swiss ball user very unpopular.

Wobble stools

Wobble stools allow a wide range of movement
Wobble stools allow a wide range of movement

Main advantages are that they are easily stored under a desk. They allow an incredibly wide range of movement and they are comfortable to use for extended periods due to the fabric cushioned seat that most come with. The ability to twist, turn, rock or whatever takes your fancy is a huge bonus. They work by having a weighted disc base. The idea is that this in-built instability means you are righting yourself continuously and thereby activating all your hip and back muscles. They also have adjustable height so you can sit at the height that suits your desk. A swiss ball doesn't have this capability.

Disadvantage is cost. They are, of course , more expensive than a Swiss ball. There is no getting around it.

They also require a bit of getting used to. You must sit with your feet flat on the ground and this takes a bit of time to accustom yourself to.


I think that the impact of standing desks has hugely impacted upon this decision. If you go back 10 years nobody had sit stand adjustable desks and they were sitting all day. So the choice of office chair was really important. But now with a huge number of people using standing desks - they find them selves in the position where they are perhaps only sitting for 50-60% of their working day.

So the issue of easy storage when not in use perhaps has more relevance ?

My ideal set up is a wobble stool with a standing desk because it ticks all the boxes for me but there may well be an argument for starting with a Swiss ball and moving to a wobble stool if you felt the benefits were there. We allow people to try the wobble stool from our Wellington warehouse. They can take one away and try it for a week. We feel this is enough time to see whether it works from an ergonomic perspective but also whether they can establish a habit that means it is used regularly.

In the end, both these solutions will benefit the user as long as they can develop the habit to use them.


Where do you get swiss balls from ?

We've got some swiss balls but only in one colour - orange. If you want one and you are buying something else from us - let us know and we'll send you one They come in three different sizes so make sure you don't buy a small one if you are 6ft 4 ?

If you want a wider range try

How do wobble stools stay upright ?

Can you fall off the back of a wobble chair ?

What's the difference between a wobble stool and a saddle chair ?

How do you pump up a swiss ball ?


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