Gain stability, strength, and efficiency, with these exercises on the balance board
A balance board is a plank that rests on a hub or is placed on a cylindrical roller to give it more movement and instability. A piece of physiotherapy equipment, it is now widely used by fitness trainers as well. It comes in many avatars: with round, oval and rectangular surfaces. Under ₹2,000, it is easy to store, and needs zero maintenance.
The main benefit of the balance board is that it can be used even without expert supervision, to improve basic fitness, balance, and stability. Professional athletes, especially gymnasts, surf boarders, roller skaters use it widely.
The board improves the ability to move efficiently. It helps to strengthen weak and unstable ankles, and can also be used for a full body workout. Squats, lunges, planks, pushups and all the other body weight exercises can be done on the board. The unstable surface makes the exercises more challenging and interesting.
Before you start
Exercises can be done with or without shoes.
Avoid the equipment if you have a history of ankle injury.
Post injury training is usually done under guidance, specific to the need of the joint, so consult a rehab trainer or physiotherapist before you begin.
Maintaining the right posture is important. Position your feet shoulder width apart, shoulders back and down, chin parallel to the floor, weight equally distributed on both feet. Keep knees unlocked at all times.
1. Standing on the board
Maintain the posture mentioned above and stand on the board. The challenge is to prevent the edges of the board from touching the ground. The ankles and legs may wobble and shake in the beginning, but you will soon find it easy. The ankle joint gets a good challenge as several small muscles in the feet have to work hard to find stability.
2. Single leg stance
Take the exercise a notch up and stand with one foot in the centre of the board, the other foot lifted off . Hold for 30 seconds on each foot and repeat 6 times.
3. Side to side
Get off the board, walk around for a minute. Stand on the board again with both feet. Once you are fairly steady, move your weight from side to side, tilting the board from left to right, but without the edges touching the floor. Do three sets, for a minute each.
4. Front and back
Maintaining the above position, shift the weight forward and back so the board tilts to the front and the back. Prevent the edges from touching the floor. Do three sets, for a minute each.
5. Move in circles
Maintaining the above position, rotate the board: forward, side, back and the other side, as if your are making a circle. Start with the right side first and then the left. Do three sets, for a minute on each side.
Full body workouts
Squats with or without external weight can be done.
Lunges with one foot on the board and one foot on the floor. Dynamic lunges are more challenging.
Planks with hands on the board, planks with the hands tilting the board, pushups with one hand on the floor and one hand on the board.
Biceps, triceps and all shoulder exercises using dumbells or barbells become more challenging, when done on the board.
Bridging with feet on the board adds a different dimension to the glute strengthening exercise.
Nisha Varma is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist. A monthly column with exercises for a home workout