The Story Behind Balance Boards

Posted by L.C. Thurston on 2017 Feb 8th

Balance is described as the even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady or in other words not falling over. It is a simple concept but it requires a great deal of coordination. Not just being able to put one foot in front of the other either, no. Your body coordinates a number of  key systems to keep you upright every moment of the day.

Your vestibular system is made up of the organs that regular your equilibrium, This system gathers information relating to you direction, head position, and acceleration. Meanwhile your somatosensory system is gauging information to discern your proprioception. That is, the relative position and strength of your different joints and muscles. Lasting the visual system is proving information about where you stand relative to your environment. You brain processes the information from these inputs endlessly just to keep you upright.

History

The modern balance board owes its existence to WWII pilot  Stanley Washburn Jr. In his time flying supply planes he came across children on Africa’s Gold Coast playing with a plank and log. Upon returning home Washburn created his own version in his wood shop as a gift for his daughter. The Bongo Board was board in 1952 and became a popular toy. By the 1960s the users of the board had become more diverse. Skiers and other athletes adopted the device to help with balance training.

Vew-Do patented the first multi directional balance training device in 1992 and since then balance boards have been an accepted method of balance training, strength building, and rehabilitation.

What Kinds of Balance board are there?

The simplest balance board that rests on a bidirectional fulcrum. It only allows the user to tilt left and right.

Rocker Board

Bi-directional

The simplest balance board that rests on a bidirectional fulcrum. It only allows the user to tilt it left and right. Rocker Board
Wobble Board

Multi Directional

The wobble uses a spherical fulcrum to provide 360* of movement.

Health Medics Wobble Board

Rocker-Roller Board

Bi-directional

Unlike the Rocker Board the bidirectional fulcrum of the Rocker-Roller board is not attached. This allows the use to tilt from side but is more challenging because the board slides.

Rocker Roller Board

Sphere & Ring Boards

Multi Directional

The fulcrum of the Sphere & Ring Board is an inflatable ball which is kept in place by the ring on the underside of the board. This creates a unstable surface which requires more skill to master.

Sphere & Ring Board

Springboard

Multi Directional

Uses a spring between two boards rather than a fulcrum. The springs compress but still create an unstable surface.

Spring Board

Why Use One?

Better Balance

Regular use of a balance board while performing exercises will help develop your proprioception. It allows the body to better understand the relationship between your joints and muscles and what you are capable of. Some of this is innate but the more you test your bodies limit the more comfortable you will become. You brain will be more confident in your ability and your body will be able to adjust for instability thus improving your balance.

Strength 

The unstable surface of a balance board engages your core and lower body, including your legs and joints, because your body has to work to retain balance. 

Combing the balance board with normal exercises increases the level of difficulty to regular exercise. There are added benefits to exercising with a balance board. Improved strength and proprioception will also lead to faster reaction times, more agility, and more power. 

Rehabilitation

Your proprioception can become compromised because of age or injury. Age can lead to a decline in your bodies ability assess the critical data you need to stay upright and may lead to falls. In fact one in three people 65 and older will suffer a critical fall. Injury can also impact your bodies ability to stabilize itself. Damaged tissue, even a strain for instance, may not be as capable as other tissues and undermine your body's ability to compensate. This makes you more unstable as your body will have to learn how to use that tissue again.

A balance board provides a controlled environment to rebuild your strength and confidence in injured tissue. 

Prevent Future Injury

Better balance and more strength will not only help fight against age related decline in your abilities but also safeguard you against future injury. A more engaged body is a more capable and therefore more reliable on challenging surfaces. 

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