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By Gary Gordon
Balance boards may look like something children play with, but the truth is that balance boards are great for physical training and rehabilitative therapies. All physical activity requires various degrees of balance and equilibrium. A person’s sense of equilibrium and balance are absolutely critical to normal bodily function, hand-eye coordination, and motor skill activity. However, they can easily be damaged. Balance boards are used to repair a person’s sense of balance and equilibrium. But even a seasoned athlete can receive benefits from balance board training. Balance boards are a fun way to improve balance, strength, coordination, and reaction time for people needing to improve their agility. Soccer players, skiers, and any board sports enthusiast will find the benefits of balance board training invaluable.
The goal of balance board training is to challenge balance, sense imbalance, react quickly, and recover quickly from the imbalance through subtle physical adjustments. Even people at the peak of their physical fitness will find balance board tasks to be a challenge until their bodies become proficient at making balance adjustments. So it’s advisable for all beginners to hold onto a chair or a table, or even use a wall, for extra support until they get accustomed to the exercises.
Balance board exercises are easy and fun. We have broken down the exercises into three levels:
– Beginner Training
– Athlete Training
– Strength Training
– Beginner Training
There are three basic movements associated with beginner training:
– Front to Back
– Side to Side
– Circular Rotation
To accomplish these movements, it’s as simple as standing on the board and rocking in the aforementioned direction. If these movements seem difficult at first, use a chair or something to hold on to that will aid you from falling. Once you’ve mastered these three basic movements, try kneeling on the board and doing them. With all exercises, attempt to maintain your balance for as long as you can and make it your goal to progressively increase that time with each attempt.
These movements are also standard recommendations for people with balance problems and for those in rehabilitative therapy.
Athletes who consistently train with balance boards will increase proprioception and ankle strength. This will improve coordination and overall athletic ability as well as decreasing the risk of potential ankle injury on the playing field.
– Try to maintain your balance for at least 30 seconds.
– Repeatedly throw a ball against a wall and catch it.
– Stand on the board with one foot and with the other foot, draw numbers and shapes in the air
– Try to maintain your balance with your eyes closed. *NOTE* This movement is very advanced and risky.
– With your hands placed at each end of the board, do push-ups
– While sitting on the board, do crunches
– With one foot on the floor and the other on the board, slowly rotate the board. This will gently stretch your lower leg muscles and ankle.
Do a set of squats. You’ll find these to be advanced movements but very effective.
Balance boards are wonderful core stability trainers, but people with back, neck or leg problems should be carefully instructed before using them. They’re considered to be on the “extreme” end of fitness training equipment and should be used carefully. There is a good chance of falling, so anyone with bone density loss should be very careful.
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