Balance Boards - Sports' Essential Balance

Your Guide to the Benefits of Balance Boards in Sport

With such a vast myriad of sporting and fitness equipment now available, is it any wonder that so many of us feel confused and overwhelmed? Few of us have unlimited space at home or lots of free time to train, so most of us want just one piece of equipment that will provide maximum all round benefit.

Ask any athlete and they will tell you that if there is one thing that plays a major part in every sport, regardless of level, it is core strength and stability. It not only directly affects skill and stamina but also significantly reduces the likelihood of injury.

A well established method of achieving and developing core strength and stability is through balance training. Balance training consists of exercises using balance boards, wobble boards or balance balls. Balance boards in particular are popular as they are a lot of fun to use, which means training is no longer a chore and perhaps explains why balance boarding is fast becoming a sport in its own right!

 
Basic balance board exercises focus on core strength by aiding abdominal and trunk strengthening, along with increasing tone in the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles. Other exercises can also be performed to work on upper body conditioning.

Increased stability comes from combining core strength with a better sense of balance. We have nerves in our brain that tell us where different parts of our body are in space at a given point in time, these nerves are call proprioceptors. The proprioceptors form part of how we balance. Use of a balance board will develop our proprioception or sense of balance and this, combined with core strength, will increase our stability as well as improving our coordination and posture, quickening our reaction time and raising our overall body awareness.

   

Balance training is not a new concept; many athletes incorporate it into their overall training program for both performance enhancement and injury prevention. The benefits of balance training are well established and far reaching.

Sports training

Whether it’s improving that golf swing, reaching for a drop shot or mastering the moguls, balance is a key aspect of any sport. There are basically two types of balance, static (stationary) and dynamic (during movement). Whilst static balance is essential for everyday functioning like standing up, it is dynamic balance that really affects out sporting performance. For example in order to be an effective football player the body must be able to change direction quickly, therefore football players are trained to be stable in their dynamic balance through balance training.

For board sports such as skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding and wakeboarding, balance training also enables the practice of balance, stance and tricks out of season and in the home.

 

Fitness

Improving core strength is a key goal of fitness training. Incorporating a balance trainer into a fitness regime creates an effective and dynamic workout. For added complexity balance boards can be used with exercises such as squats and pushups, making a simple exercise far more challenging.

Rehabilitation

Balance training is often used to rehabilitate a variety of ankle, knee, hip and spine injuries. After an injury, the proprioceptors in the injured and swelled area cease to work. It is the body’s attempt at trying to keep us from using the injured area.

Retraining proprioception after injury has been shown to prevent further injury and ensure a speedy return to sport. For example failure to retrain balance after ankle sprains can lead to chronic weakness and recurrent sprains.

The use of a balance board not only helps with proprioceptive re-education but also in posture improvement and abdominal and trunk strengthening, along with increasing tone in the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles which all combine to reduce risk of re-injury.

   

Defensive training

Rather than waiting until injury occurs using a balance board as a proactive measure will help prevent an injury in the first instance. In the same way balance training helps after injury by developing balance, improving posture and strengthening muscles, when used preemptively these factors will help reduce an injury ever occurring.


Child development

Recent studies have also linked balance to learning difficulties amongst children. Using balance training exercises has been shown to help with some of the difficulties seen in dyslexia, dyspraxia and attention deficit disorder.

 
   

Back to top

The content within this website is provided by independent third parties, either as part of a feature or through links to other websites. ScottishSport.co.uk does not accept responsibility for the content of those sites or the accuracy of any information contained within this site.

Copyright © Scottishsport.co.uk. All right reserved.