In physiotherapy a balance or wobble board is used for balance, athletic strengthening, improving posture, coordination and fall prevention training. It is usually circular with an uneven base, on which you attempt to balance. It is used to prepare people to: avoid injurious falls; to prevent sports injuries especially to the ankle and knee and for rehabilitation.
Over the years they have become very popular with many sports training people from amateurs to elite athletes. They are used in physiotherapy departments for various lower limb rehabilitation programs and for balance and fall prevention programs. They also are now being marketed for use at standing desks to keep workers more alert and improve fitness. Of course if you are using a wobble cushion you can sit on it while at your desk and the added unbalance requires you to work your core muscles more.
Factors affecting degree of difficulty
Surface area of the underside of the board
The tilt angle which is the angle created when one edge of the board touches the ground.
The size of the board. The larger it is the easier to balance.
Uses in Physiotherapy
There are many reasons a physiotherapist may choose to use a balance board.
A 2011 study found that wobble board training is effective for elderly people to improve their standing balance. Studies have also shown that the use of a balance board three times a week can reduce risk of falls in the elderly population.
Lower limb strengthening and rehabilitation following lower limb injuries
A 2018 study found that a 40 minute session on a balance board could improve the proprioceptive ankle sense and balance ability in those with functionally unstable ankles.
Another study on female soccer players found that major injuries like ACL tears could not be prevented by balance board training but the balance training did reduce overall new injury rates.
Upper Limb strengthening and proprioceptive training
Using a balance board to train your upper body can improve balance, stability and proprioceptive awareness. Be sure you can perform these exercises like pushups, with good form without a balance board first or you run the risk of injuries to shoulders, elbows or wrists.
Core muscle training
Having a strong stable core is essential for good functional activities and injury prevention. A balance board or balance cushion is a great tool to help with core stabilisation and strengthening.
As with all physiotherapy devices, if you haven’t used one before ask your Physio for advice first.