Finding your balance, both literally and figuratively, is an important part of life. A strong sense of balance helps keep us steady on our feet and focused during times of chaos. For many people, balance training is seen as a core component of maintaining fitness and preventing injuries. This is where balance boards come in handy!
Balance boards, also known as wobble boards, are exercise tools designed to improve balance, coordination and core strength. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with each providing an unstable surface that challenges your muscles to constantly adjust. Balancing on these instability trainers requires total body engagement and concentration. With regular use, you can reap huge benefits like enhanced stability, improved proprioception, stronger lower body and core, better balance reactions and more.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about choosing the best balance board stability trainer for your needs. Let’s start with a look at our top picks:
Top 5 Balance Boards
1. Indo Board Balance Board
One of the original and most popular balance boards, the Indo Board has a unique rocker design that mimics surfing motions when balanced upon. This forces your body to constantly adjust to maintain stability. Models come with interchangeable fulcrum points allowing you to make it more or less difficult. Its deck is cushioned for comfort yet rigid for optimal balance training. Used by pros but also suitable for beginners.
The Indo Board is praised for its versatility, quality construction and slick design. It provides an excellent full body workout to surfers and non-surfers alike.
2. Revolution 101 Balance Board
Distinguished by its circular shape, the Revolution 101 Balance Board allows for 360 degrees of wobble motion to challenge your stability from all directions. The textured rubber surface provides secure footing to avoid slips. Foam perimeter cushions prevent overly-sharp tilting.
With its unique shape and adjustable leveling capability, the Revolution 101 engages your muscles in new ways compared to traditional rocker boards. It’s an excellent choice for anyone wanting to take their balance training to the next level.
3. Bosu Balance Trainer
This extremely popular balance trainer features soft platform on one side and a rigid platform on the other. This allows you to train with stable or unstable surfaces. The textured platforms provide traction during your workout.
The Bosu is praised for its versatility in allowing users to do everything from cardio to strength training. It’s easy to store and transport, making it ideal for home use.
4. SimplyFit Board
A great option for beginners, the SimplyFit Board provides balance training at an affordable price. Its rigid, round platform offers a moderate stability challenge for new users. A textured top provides secure footing while the bottom is designed to prevent sliding on smooth floors.
With its budget friendly price and straight-forward design, the SimplyFit Board is ideal for those wanting to test out balance training without a huge investment.
5. URBNFit Wobble Board
If you’re looking for more adjustability, the URBNFit Wobble Board allows you to change its height to alter stability levels. Start low at 6 inches for beginners and progress up to a more challenging 15 inches as you improve. The ridged platform prevents tipping at higher settings.
The URBNFit Board accommodates all skill levels. Its adjustable height lets you slowly progress your balance training over time.
Now that you’re familiar with some top options, let’s go over some key factors to consider when choosing the right balance board for your needs and goals:
How to Choose a Balance Board
Consider Your Current Fitness Level
Your current balance abilities, strength, and coordination should factor into the type of balance board you select.
- Beginners should opt for a board with a low profile and wide, rigid platform to provide more stability. Avoid springy surfaces at first.
- Intermediate users can start to experiment with rounder, rocker-style boards that require more balance adjustments.
- Advanced fitness enthusiasts can choose highly unstable surfaces like inflatable cushions to keep challenging the body and mind.
Test Different Board Shapes and Motions
Rocker, roll and pivot boards each provide unique balancing motions. Test them out to find which feels most comfortable and engaging.
- Rocker boards seesaw side-to-side and mimic surfing motions. Great for overall stability.
- Roll boards move front and back to challenge your balance adaption. Improve coordination.
- Pivot boards swivel 360 degrees forcing constant small adjustments. React and recover faster.
Ensure It Can Accommodate Your Size
Pay attention to the weight and height capacities of any board you’re considering. You want one that provides enough surface area to safely balance on.
- Larger individuals may need a wider, longer platform for proper support and comfort.
- Shorter boards around 15 inches work well for kids and petite users.
- Some boards are quite narrow which can be very challenging. Make sure you have the balance abilities first before choosing a narrow option.
Look for Adjustable Options
For those wanting to progress their training over time, selecting an adjustable balance board can be beneficial. Models like the URBNFit Board allow you to start at lower, more stable heights and work your way up as your skills improve. This prevents you from outgrowing the board too quickly.
- Beginners should start at the lowest, most stable setting possible.
- As you improve, slowly increase the height in increments of 1-2 inches.
- Always focus on maintaining stability before progessing higher. Don’t rush it.
Consider Added Features
Some balance boards come with special features that enhance the training or workout experience:
- Resistance bands allow you to get an upper body workout while balancing. Convenient 2-in-1 option.
- Interchangeable fulcrums make it easy to quickly change the difficulty level on rocker-style boards. Great for progressing.
- Carrying handles improve portability if you want to transport the board easily.
- Textured surfaces provide needed traction and stability when balancing in shoes. Important safety feature.
- Cushioned edges help prevent falls and make repeated mounting/dismounting more comfortable.
Balance Board Exercises
Now let’s go over some of the many exercises you can do on a balance board to build stability and strength in your entire body:
Properly engaging your core is crucial during any balance board exercise. Draw the belly button in towards the spine to activate your transverse abdominis, multifidus, pelvic floor and other stabilizing muscles. Maintain this brace as you perform other moves.
Planks – Hold a high plank, low plank or side plank position on the board. Keep your core tight.
Mountain climbers – In push-up position, alternate bringing each knee towards chest. Move slow and controlled.
Seated knee raises – Sit on board and alternate lifting knees up towards chest. Keep back straight.
Russian twists – Sitting upright, rotate side to side to touch hands to either side of board.
Lower Body Exercises
The unstable surface challenges your hip stabilizers, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves to constantly adjust. Perform moves slowly and maintain proper alignment. Use support at first if needed.
Squats – Perform normal squats on the board. Focus on proper form.
Lunges – Carefully step forwards and backwards into lunge positions.
Calf raises – Raise up onto your toes and slowly lower back down, both double and single leg.
Monster walks – Take lateral steps to the side, crossing one foot in front of the other with each step.
Single leg deadlifts – Hinge at the hips to lift one leg behind you, keeping a flat back.
Upper Body Exercises
Balance training engages the shoulders, chest, back and arms isometrically to steady the body. You can also add pushing/pulling moves against resistance bands.
Push-ups – Keep good form as you lower your chest towards the board. Make sure wrist is stacked below shoulder.
Resistance band row – Anchor band on front of board and row handles back to engage your back.
Bicep curls – Stand on board and curl a light dumbbell up towards your shoulder.
Shoulder press – Holding dumbbells, press arms directly overhead while balancing. Keep core braced.
Triceps dips – Sit on edge of board. Place hands beside hips and straighten arms to lift yourself up.
Balance boards are commonly used in yoga training to help improve focus, stability, posture and flexibility. Test yourself by trying basic yoga poses on the board.
Tree pose – Shift weight to one leg, pressing foot against inner thigh of standing leg as you extend other leg up.
Warrior III pose – Hinge at the hip to raise one leg straight back as you reach arms forward.
Dancer’s pose – Stand on one leg. Bend other knee back and grab foot in your hand to lift and extend leg.
Eagle pose – Cross one leg in front of the other, bend knees slightly and cross arms in front of chest.
Half moon pose – Place hands on the board, straighten bottom leg and raise top leg up sideways.
Balance Board Training Tips
Here are some useful tips to get the most out of your balance board training:
- Start slow and focus on maintaining stability before trying dynamic moves. Build up time and difficulty gradually.
- Use a spotter or hold onto a sturdy object at first until you get comfortable.
- Proper stance is crucial – hip-width or slightly wider. Knees and ankles should be soft, not locked out. Maintain neutral spine by drawing naval in towards spine.
- Avoid hunching or leaning forward at the waist. This puts strain on the back. Keep chest lifted.
- Make controlled, smooth motions on the board. Avoid any quick, jerky motions which can cause slips or falls.
- Wear athletic shoes with flat, rubber soles to prevent slipping on the board. Bare feet or socks can be slippery.
- Ensure you have adequate clear space around the board so you don’t risk bumping into objects if you lose balance.
- Start by alternating 30-60 seconds of exercise with 30-60 seconds of rest until you build endurance.
- Monitor your body for fatigue. Always end a session once your form declines. Quality over quantity!
While extremely effective tools, balance boards do require some safety precautions, especially for beginners:
- Thoroughly inspect the board prior to each use. Look for any loose hardware, damage, or wear and tear.
- Always use boards on flat, even ground. Avoid using on uneven surfaces like thick carpeting or grass which can cause tipping accidents.
- Tighten any adjustable components like foot platforms or fulcrums prior to stepping on.
- Carefully review and follow the weight/height limits for your model to avoid breakage or instability.
- Make sure to warm up muscles prior to stepping on the board. Sudden explosive moves when cold increases injury risks.
- Slowly build up session duration. It’s easy to overdo it at first since balancing is so taxing on the body.
- Have a chair, countertop or spotter nearby at first to grab onto quickly if needed as you’re learning.
- Stop immediately if you feel any dizziness, nausea or pain during a session. Consult a doctor if it persists.
- Supervise children closely, only allow independent use once they display consistently good balance abilities.
- Those new to fitness or with health conditions should get physician approval before starting balance training.
The Benefits of Balance Board Training
Now that you know how to select the right balance board and perform a variety of exercises on them safely, let’s recap some of the great benefits they provide:
- Improved balance and stability – With regular use, your proprioception, coordination and balance reactions improve allowing you to feel steady even on uneven terrain.
- Full body muscle engagement – Your entire body has to work to stabilize on the board. Expect stronger core, glutes, legs and shoulders.
- Injury prevention – The constant stabilization required enhances joint integrity and flexibility to avoid strains and falls.
- Enhanced sports performance – Better balance and agility translates to improved performance in sports like surfing, skiing, skating and more.
- Fun and engaging – Balancing on an unstable surface provides a challenging full-body workout that beats boring old strength machines.
- Convenient – Balance boards are portable and can be used in small spaces. Easy to incorporate into existing routines.
- For all ages/abilities – Low profile boards allow beginners and seniors to develop balance in a safe manner.
Adding balance board training to your existing workout routine can provide huge benefits for stability, strength, coordination and injury prevention. With so many options available, be sure to choose a board that matches your current fitness level and provides room to progress as your abilities improve over time. Maintain proper form, start slowly and use caution – especially as you’re learning. Patience and consistency will lead to enhanced balance that translates to everyday life and sports. Just remember to have fun with it!