Balance boards, also known as wobble boards, are effective at building both core stabilization and ankle mobility. Several types are available, and some of them are adjustable. On your first few occasions using a board, set it to the lowest height and near a wall so that you may steady yourself if necessary, or use a spotter. As you get better, practice exercises with your eyes closed for an added challenge.
Single Leg Balance
Balancing on one leg with a wobble board is an approachable exercise for beginners. To do it, place one foot on the center of the board and your shift weight to that foot, keeping your other foot on the ground. Straighten the leg on the board, keeping your toes and hips pointed forward. Finally, lift the foot on the floor into the air, bending your knee slightly. Balance on the board, keeping strong posture and tightened abs without bending at the waist. Hold the pose for about 30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.
The editors of Men’s Health call the plank exercise “one of the best ways to strengthen a weak core.” Holding a plank position with a close grip and both hands on the balance board intensifies the move, forcing your abs and stabilizing core muscles to work even harder. To make sure you’re doing it right, engage your core during the exercise and keep your entire body in a straight line that goes from your head to your heels. If that’s too difficult, modify the exercise by holding the position with your forearms on the board rather than your hands. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
To target your abs with the balance board, perform a crunch variation that involves tapping the board from side to side. Sit on the center of the board with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed and down. Your legs can be bent to start and extended out straight when your core grows stronger. With slow, controlled movements of your hips, move the board from side to side, tapping it lightly to the ground on each rotation. Do as many reps as you can while maintaining proper form and posture.
Take the plank stabilization exercise up a notch and give your back, shoulders and triceps a workout at the same time you are building those core muscles. Begin in a static plank position, holding the pose from your hands rather than your forearms. While keeping your abs and lower back engaged and your elbows close to your sides, inhale and lower your body toward the floor. Pause briefly, exhale and press back up. Do as many reps as you can with good form. Stop if you notice your hips sagging or your elbows flaring out to the sides.
References & Resources
- Journal of the American Geriatric Society: The Effect of a 5-Week Wobble-Board Exercise Intervention on Ability to Discriminate Different Degrees of Ankle Inversion
- American 3B Scientific: Introduction to Balance Board Training
- Podantics Podiatry: Wobble Boards and Balance
- SPRI Products: Wobble Board
- Men’sHealth: Do More for Your Core