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Balance Training for a Better Life

Friday, 2 March 2018  |  Paul

We often associate good balance with physical activity and athletic ability, but it is also an important skill that we all require to perform daily tasks. When you think about it, balance is required when you're standing up in the bus, stretching to reach something on a high shelf, or climbing a ladder. In fact, you're even balancing when you walk down the street! Once you realise what an integral role balance plays in our lives, you realise how important good balance is in order for us to function effectively and avoid injury. Read on to find out how you can benefit from balance training and how to choose the right balance trainer for you.

What is Balance?

Balance is the ability to control one's body position when stationary or moving, and it is actually a function of the nervous system that is influenced by the senses. In other words, your senses detect changes to your environment and react to stimuli to keep you stable on your feet when your balance is challenged.

There are two types of balance – static balance and dynamic balance. Static balance refers to your ability to remain stable while stationary, while dynamic balance refers to your ability to maintain postural control while moving. Both of these are skills that we require throughout the day, every day, and, if necessary, can be improved with balance training.

How Can Balance Training Help You?

Balance training offers a wide range of benefits and can be of advantage to you regardless of whether you're young or old. Here are just some of the ways in which balance training can help you:

  • Prevent injury – Balance training teaches you to be more aware of your body and how your limbs are oriented. This is called proprioception, and improving this ability can help to prevent injury.
  • Restore proprioception – Age and disease can take their toll on our muscles and ligaments, causing our ability to balance to deteriorate. Balance training can help us to "relearn" good balance, and it can be of assistance to individuals with Parkinson's disease, arthritis, multiple sclerosis or osteoporosis.
  • Improve co-ordination – Balance training requires your muscles to work together to prevent you from falling over. As a result, it can be used to improve your co-ordination.
  • Increase joint stability – Balance training can improve the stability of your knees, ankles, hips and shoulders, which can aid in the rehabilitation of injured joints and prevent future reocurrence of the same injury.
  • Improve sports performance – By enhancing your balance, you can increase your speed and maximise the amount of force that you can exert during sports.
  • Reduce reaction time – Balance training can better your reaction time, which can help to prevent injury in everyday life and enhance your sports performance.

Balance Training

Choosing a Balance Trainer

Selecting a balance trainer can be a confusing process, since there are various balance boards, discs, pads and trainer on the market to choose from. Your choice should ultimately be based on your end goals, since some balance trainers are better suited to certain outcomes than others.

If you want to work on your static balance, you need a stable surface, while dynamic balance training requires an unstable surface. A wobble board or balance disc works well for dynamic training, while a BOSU ball is ideal for both dynamic and static balance training.

  • Balance Disc: A balance disc is a board that is attached to an unstable fulcrum. The user typically stands on the board for balance training, and, due to the instability of the board, needs to engage the muscles in their toes, soles, ankles, knees, hips, stomach, shoulders, arms and neck to remain upright while on the board.
  • Balance Trainer: A balance trainer typically consists of an inflated rubber dome attached to a solid base. This is arguably the most versatile piece of balance training equipment, because it can be used both dome side down and dome side up.
  • Balance Board: A balance board is a rectangular board on an unstable fulcrum. It functions in a very similar manner to a balance disc, requiring you to continuously engage your muscles to remain on the board.
  • Balance Pad: A balance pad is a foam pad that is unstable when you step on it. It functions much like a balance trainer, balance disc or balance board, but is more effective because it requires you to engage more muscles to maintain stability.

Best Balance Training Equipment

To help you get started with balance training we have put together a list of some of the best balance trainers, discs, boards and pads.

BOSU Balance Trainer Pro Home KitThe BOSU Balance Trainer Pro Home Package is a balance training kit containing the world-renowned BOSU (an acronym for Both Sides Up), two workout DVDs and a pump to inflate the dome. This balance trainer can be used for sports conditioning, injury rehabilitation, flexibility training and to build core strength.

Sissel Dynamic Balance BoardThe Sissel Dynamic Balance Board is a disc-shaped balance board that enables balance training within a 360° range of motion. This compact and versatile training tool can be used by just about anyone – young or old – for sports training, injury rehabilitation or simply to improve balance and co-ordination.

Lateral Balance Rocker BoardThe Lateral Balance Rocker Board 0-12° Angles is a wooden board on an unstable fulcrum. It only enables side-to-side movement, making it a safer and easier option for beginners, children, the elderly and individuals that require balance training as part of injury rehabilitation.

Pro11 Balance PadThe Pro11 Rehabilitation Balance Pad is an EVA foam pad designed for balance training. The pad is slightly unstable when you step on it, which forces you to engage your muscles to maintain stability. It can be used for balance and movement training, as well as to prevent and rehabilitate orthopaedic traumatological conditions.

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