Balancing equipment are versatile exercise tools that provide plenty of benefits for anyone looking to improve their mobility. They come in various shapes and sizes, such as wobble boards, balance boards, and Bosu balls. These tools can help with ankle mobility exercises, core stability drills, and functional fitness training, among many other things. In this article, we’ll analyze how balancing can help enhance your mobility, among other great benefits and offer guidance on selecting the right balance equipment for your needs.
Understanding What Causes the Reduce in Mobility
Reduced mobility can stem from various causes, some of which are beyond our control. In contrast, others can be managed or even prevented with the right approach. We’ll dive into the three most common issues within our power to fix them.
Lack of Activity
When we don’t move our bodies enough, our muscles weaken, and our joints become tight and inflexible. This leads to a reduced range of motion, resulting in difficulties with everyday tasks and an increased risk of falls and other injuries. In addition, lack of activity can also contribute to other health conditions that can further reduce mobility, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. On the other hand, regular physical activity can help maintain and improve mobility by keeping our muscles and joints strong and flexible. Even small amounts of exercise, like stretching or simple walking, makes a big difference in maintaining optimal mobility and overall health.
Another widespread cause of reduced mobility is muscle imbalance. Prolonged sitting, standing, or staring at a phone or computer screen can lead to specific muscle imbalances, causing certain muscle groups to become overworked and strained while others not in use weaken over time. This imbalance usually results in pain, inflammation, and a reduced range of motion. Even if you’re reasonably active but only focus on specific muscle groups and ignore the opposing muscles, you’ll start running into issues eventually.
Accidents are another common cause of reduced mobility. Sprains, strains, fractures, or broken bones are what traumatologists deal with regularly. If you’re lucky, an ice pack and a good rest will fix the damage. Still, if the injury is more serious, you may need to wear a cast or even undergo surgery to repair the damage, which often results in a prolonged period of immobility, during which some muscles may not be active at all while others work overtime to compensate. This imbalance leads to weakness, tightness, and reduced range of motion once the cast is removed.
How do Balance Boards help with mobility?
Now that we covered common mobility issues that we can address, we can focus on how balancing trainers helps with our mobility. We can split this into two types of help:
The core concept behind passive assistance is rooted in the very nature of the balancing act. Balancing requires you to instinctively relax various muscles throughout your body, and then actively engage them in order to maintain stability for brief periods. This natural process takes place subconsciously, effectively relaxing and activating muscles across your entire body, thereby helping to improve your overall mobility.
- Passive: The core concept behind passive assistance is rooted in the very nature of the balancing act. Balancing requires you to instinctively relax various muscles throughout your body and actively engage them to maintain stability for brief periods. This natural process takes place subconsciously, effectively relaxing and activating muscles across your entire body, thereby working on both the lack of activity and muscle imbalance issues and improving your overall mobility.
- Active: Balance boards can also be great helpers when focussing on certain parts of the body. A good example would be a person with a broken ankle who recently removed his cast and noticed that his strength and range of motion decreased in his foot. We could introduce daily routines with a wobble balance board to actively work on the strength and mobility of his ankle. You could easily place a wobble board underneath the work desk and use its angle to screech muscles and other tissue in your ankle or apply force to the board, trying to push or pull the chair closer, effectively working the whole leg.
Still, the most significant advantage personally is passive assistance is its seamless integration into your daily routines, making it a convenient and efficient option for enhancing mobility.
For instance, incorporating a balance board into your setup can offer notable benefits if you have a standing desk at work or home. As you stand and work, using a balance board helps you maintain good posture and actively engages your muscles, thus improving your mobility without the need for dedicated workout sessions. This practical approach allows you to make the most of your time, all while promoting a healthier lifestyle in a professional yet friendly manner, similar to taking steps instead of an elevator or going to a nearby shop on foot rather than driving there. These actions might seem minor, but they compound into a significant health benefit over time with little effort.
How to Choose the Right Balance Tool for Your Needs
Choosing the right balance board for your needs can be daunting, given the variety of options available on the market. However, by considering a few key factors, you can make an informed decision that best suits your experience level and goals. Here are some aspects to take into account when selecting a balance board:
Experience Level: If you’re a beginner, consider starting with a Bosu ball or a wobble board, as these options offer a more gentle learning curve. More advanced users may prefer a balance board with a roller. The general rule is the smaller the diameter of the roller, the easier it is to balance.
- Size and Portability: Balance tools come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, so consider your available space and storage options when making your choice. Smaller balance boards or inflatable options like Bosu balls are ideal for those with limited space or who need a portable solution for travel or outdoor workouts.
- Durability and Weight Capacity: Look for high-quality materials that can withstand daily use and support your weight. Read product reviews, and don’t forget to check the manufacturer’s weight capacity guidelines.
- Goals: Consider your objectives when picking a balance trainer. A rocker board or a Bosu ball may be sufficient if you want to improve general mobility. However, suppose you want to enhance sports performance or engage in more challenging exercises, look for a good balance board.
- Budget: Eventually, consider your budget when picking a balancing tool. While some trainers can be pretty expensive, plenty of affordable options on the market still offer great functionality and durability.
Precautions and Safety Tips
While balance training can improve mobility, it’s essential to be aware of potential risks and take precautions to ensure a safe and effective workout.
- Start Slowly: Begin with basic exercises and gradually progress to more advanced movements as your confidence and skills improve.
- Maintain Proper Form: Focus on maintaining proper form and body alignment during each exercise to minimize the risk of injury.
- Use a Spotter: If you’re new to balance board training or trying a challenging exercise, consider having a spotter nearby to assist and provide support if needed.
- Safety Gear: Wear appropriate footwear and use safety gear such as non-slip mats or padded surfaces to prevent falls and injuries.
- Listen to Your Body: Be mindful of your body’s limitations and stop any exercise that causes pain or discomfort.
Any balance trainer will do wonders for your mobility and health. But balance boards are a game-changer for improving mobility while offering numerous benefits by addressing common issues such as lack of activity, muscle imbalances, and post-accident recovery. They are particularly effective due to their passive assistance, seamlessly integrating into your daily routine and enhancing mobility without dedicated workout sessions.
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- Mutsumi Nakamura , Chiyoko Kise , Saho Hasegawa and Sadaya Misaki. Effectiveness of early high-intensity balance training for early home life independence after total knee arthroplasty: a pseudo-randomized controlled trial.
- Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition