What Is a Balance Trainer for (and When Should You Use It)?
Bosu balance boards and balls are difficult to use – they are unstable boards on which you can sometimes see a personal trainer asking someone to get to the top during the exercise. But are they a good way to exercise, and if so, what’s the best way to use them on your own?
They are definitely not necessary, but in some cases they can be useful.
Many people have gained in strength and athletics without using anything like a balance bar. So if you’ve never used it and are wondering if you are missing out on it, don’t worry. You do not.
So what are they for? These devices challenge your balance and proprioception, which means your brain gets to practice muscle manipulation to maintain your stability, and your muscles are better at sending signals back to your brain about where your body is in space.
If you are recovering from an injury, your training program may include some kind of instability training (as it is called) so that all the small muscles in your feet and legs work together again. I remember being instructed to stand on one leg (sometimes with my eyes closed, sometimes on a soft surface) after ACL surgery for this purpose.
This type of exercise can also be beneficial for the elderly or people with balance problems that can affect their daily activities. Balance training can help a person stabilize their body better, but it is also usually supervised by a physical therapist or personal trainer for safety reasons. Jumping barefoot in the gym can be fun, but if you can do it safely as a joke, it’s probably not what you want.
They will not make a strong person stronger.
“The practice that comes from physical therapy is very beneficial in restoring normal injuries, ” says the International Sports Science Association of training with instability. “But in terms of amplification, there is little evidence that gains go beyond improving stability and mobility.”
Balance machines make exercise harder, but they are against rather than for. For example, if you are squatting, you mainly want to work your legs and, to a lesser extent, your hips and core. To gradually reach these goals, you need to squat with a lot of resistance. In other words, don’t add a balance machine, just put some fucking weight on the bar .
Balance squats will make your squats harder, but not at the expense of challenging basic driving forces more. In contrast, instability means more stabilizing muscles need to be recruited for the party. And you’ll work so hard to get these stabilizers to work that you don’t have as much squat load as you would if you were squatting on a flat surface.
So if you want to work out stabilizing muscles, try the Bose and Balance Board yourself, and do the strength building exercises separately.