The balance board is a great piece of fitness equipment that can have many important benefits if you use one regularly as part of your fitness routine.
This article will tell you everything you need to get started with balance board exercises including:
- An overview of different types of balance board
- Balance board benefits
- The best balance board exercises
- Where to buy an exercise balance board
This page contains links to balance board manufacturers and affiliate links to product listings on Amazon.
What is a Balance Board?
There are a wide variety of balance boards available on the market, but they all typically consist of a flat surface that sits atop a central pivot point. In order to stand level on the board and maintain a balanced position, users must distribute their weight evenly on either side.
In some cases the pivot is fixed to the underside of the board, while in others it is free to move. This wide variety of types means there are balance boards tailored to many specific use cases and many different degrees of difficultly.
The four main types of boards are:
- Rocker board – The central fulcrum requires users to balance left and right
- Wobble board – Tilts in all directions and therefore requires 360 degrees of balance
- Roller board – Similar to the standard rocker boards but with more instability as the fulcrum is not attached to the base; rolls and tilts in one direction
- Ball / sphere board – Combining elements of the wobble board and the roller board, with a ball or sphere as the object that the board is balanced on; rolls and tilts in all direction
Balance Board Brands
According to Wikipedia there are now “more than a hundred models of balance boards on the market in the United States”. This ranges from very simple inexpensive styles that are used in rehabilitation, to more serious exercise balance boards, and there are several different brands competing for market share.
Some of the more popular manufacturers include:
- Indoboard – While originally designed with surfers in mind, “in recent years Indo Board Balance Trainers have become increasingly popular as a tool for improving balance and for proprioceptive conditioning in all types of athletes in sports ranging from archery to ice hockey.” This is a rocker-roller style board (though other variations are available) and is one of the most popular on the market.
- Rooboard – Rooboard brands itself as “the balance board reinvented” and is designed to be smaller and more portable than other boards. “Inventor, Mason Gilmour-Platt, a lifelong surfer and fitness expert, designed a single product that would replicate the exercises performed on multiple pieces of equipment. He created a product that is indestructible and compact enough to fit in a backpack with room for a laptop and your lunch. In doing so he also created a unique micro fitness product that is transforming the core strength of its users.” (Amazon UK link: Rooboard Balance And Core Board – Pro Package)
- Vew-do – “What began over 20 years ago as the desire to improve people’s abilities on snowboards has quickly evolved into the desire to improve people’s lives by instilling in them the tools to build a more solid core. BDI has created a niche corner for fitness, balance, and fun, by exploring different markets that could benefit from balance training. Brew and Balance Design Inc. continues being inspired by the past, while using the technology of today, to pioneer the future of balance.” (Amazon:Vew-Do Flow Balance Board with Rock)
- StrongBoard Balance – Unlike some of the other boards the StrongBoard Balance board uses springs. “When a user stands on the board, the springs compress, instantly activating all the muscles in the body, while the muscles seek stabilization. (See pic at the top of the page).
- FitterFirst – FitterFirst offer a range of balance training aids, including the Extreme Balance Board Pro which is designed to be a greater challenge for people who have used simpler balance boards. It offers a complete “multi-directional range of movement (front to back, side to side, full rotation and all angles of tilt)”
- CoolBoard – UK company CoolBoard Ltd offers a slightly different experience from some of the other types of boards because the object you balance on is a ball, and is not fixed to the base, allowing for a far greater range of motion.
- CoolBoard Founder Nic Smith said “Being on a ball, CoolBoard is by far the most functional balance board available, whether for balance and agility, strength training, weight loss… the free movement makes it more effective for all types of training. CoolBoard gets real addictive – it feels like you’re surfing or snowboarding at home. For those not used to balance training we offer our Easy Start Balance Disc as an option.”
- CoolBoard has been making their balance boards and balls for over 10 years, and ship internationally, including to the US.
Training with an exercise balance board or wobble board offers several key benefits:
- Trains your proprioception system –The proprioception system enables us to sense where different body parts are without looking at them, and it relies on nerves that are in each of our joints. According to PhysioRoom.com “it is important in all everyday movements but especially so in complicated sporting movements, where precise coordination is essential.” Training with a wobble board helps to strengthen the system. Another article from PhysioWorks explains that “the unpredictable movements of the balance board re-educates your body to quickly react to the wobbly movements without having to think”.
- Develops core strength – Remaining balanced requires tiny adjustments to muscles all over your body, including in your core. Balance training helps to build this core strength that is usually overlooked during normal workouts.
- Injury prevention – Building up strength in your joints and your core strength overall makes you less susceptible to injuries.If you’ve already invested the time with a balance board, when you stumble and potentially sprain your ankle, your muscles are strong enough to resist injury. Obviously if you are doing lots of balance training you are also far less likely to fall in the first place.
- Injury recovery and rehabilitation – Balance board exercises are commonly used for the rehabilitation of injuries like ankle sprains. These types of exercises are an excellent way to gently build up and strengthen the ligaments.
- Improves mental focus – Excellent balance requires you to silence your mind and let your proprioception system do its thing. Research has shown that balance training engages both sides of the brain and therefore has benefits far beyond the more obvious physical ones.
- Builds patience and concentration – To start with you may find balance exercises difficult, particularly if you are not especially active or haven’t done anything like this for a while. To improve your performance you also have to learn to be patient, and develop the mental will power to get back on the board each time you lose your balance.
Needless to say, all of these things ultimately lead to a positive impact on your balance!
Regular exercise is a key part of keeping healthy at any stage of your life and we often talk about getting out for a walk as a simple way to keep active. Balance board exercises can help to strengthen your ankle ligaments to prevent you from spraining your ankle on uneven terrain.
What Are Exercise Balance Boards Used For?
Due to the wide range of benefits, balance board exercises are relevant to a vast number sports and situations including:
- Surf / Ski / Skateboard – There are a number of sports that rely heavily on having great balance to achieve any degree of success. But it isn’t always easy to train for these sports for long periods of time; often you only have access to the snow, or the sea for short period of time while on vacation. Balance boards simulate some of the types of movements your might experience while surfing, or snowboarding, and importantly, let you practice on dry land. Some of the boards (such as the Indoboard and CoolBoard) have been specifically designed with this audience in mind.
- Running – According to Competitor.com “better balance equals better running” and it will come as no surprise that serious runners use training aids to help improve their balance. This goes for both sprinters, who are more interested in muscular strength, and longer distance runners who need to maintain balance, often on uneven surfaces, even when fatigued.
- Field sports – Many field sports like soccer require excellent agility, and the ability to turn very quickly. This means that balance is an important part of the game, and balance training can help to improve performance.
- Baseball – Many other sports require great balance even when it isn’t immediately obvious. For example, sportsmen such as baseball players have been known to train with balance boards to improve their performance.
- Recover from injury – Balance boards are widely used by physiotherapists to aid in the recovery of injuries, particularly ankle and knee sprains.
The Best Balance Board Exercises
We’ve said many times, 500 Calorie Fitness is all about making sustainable changes to your lifestyle that will keep you healthy for the long term.
These balance board exercises are an excellent way to recover after an injury to get you back exercising as soon as possible, or as a preventative measure to ensure that you don’t get injured in the first place.
They will also help to improve your balance, making you a better snowboarder, surfer and all round sports person.
*CAUTION* when you’re starting out with a balance board, make sure you have a friend, or an object to hold on to. It can be difficult finding your balance, especially when you step on to the board for the first time.
Be particularly careful when using the board on hard, un-carpeted floors.
- Standing – To start with you may find that just standing, balanced on the board is a challenge, and this will engage muscles throughout your body to remain in a stable position.
- Single Leg Stand – Once you’ve found your balance on two legs, can you stay balanced on the board while standing on one leg?
- Squats – From the standing start, knees shoulder width apart, slowly squat down. Bend at the knees and keep your back straight. This will engage your thighs, quads and buttocks, whilst continue to work your core to remain balanced.
- Push up – This can be done either with a close grip or wide grip to work different parts of your chest. Place your hands an even distance from the middle of the board and complete a standard push up without letting either side of the board touch the floor.
- Plank – Like the push up and squat exercises above, you can perform a standard plank using a balance board to dramatically increase the difficulty. Grip either side of the board (similar to the push up position, keeping your back really straight) and hold.
- To make this even more difficult you can try to shift your balance from one side to another, without letting the board touch the floor.
- You can also try lifting one leg at a time to make balancing even more difficult.
- There is more information on how to perform these exercises on the CoolBoard website
- FitAndMe.com has put together this excellent page of 15 wobble board exercises (including videos)
- And Roobard provides a handy single page PDF with the pics on
More Advanced Balance Exercises
Once you’ve mastered the basics it’s time to start thinking about more advanced exercises.
This video from CoolBoard shows how you can get a full body workout using just an exercise balance board:
RooBoard has suggestions for lots of different exercises on their YouTube channel including playlists for:
Or if you’re really brave you might want to attempt some of these IndoBoard tricks.
Make sure you’ve got something to hold on to when you’re getting started or trying a new exercise, falling off isn’t fun.
You should stop exercising if you find you experience any pain while attempting the positions outlined above. Incorrect form could hold back your recovery or make your injury worse.
As a preventative measure, or to build balance and strength, you could start out doing these exercises for a few minutes each day. As they can be done in the comfort of your own home, even in front of the television, they are a great way to stay active even if you don’t have much time.
What is The Best Balance Board for Me?
As we said at the start of this article, there are many different types of balance board, so how do you know which is right for you?
The points below look at the types of things that you might buy a balance board for, and suggest those that might be most suitable:
- Training for a specific sport – The specialty boards from people like Indoboard and CoolBoard are great if you are training for a specific purpose like surfing or snowboarding. These boards as designed with this audience in mind, and offer greater range of motion, more difficultly and movement that is a closer approximation to the sports themselves than you would get from a standard board.
- General fitness / home workout – If you are looking for a simple entry point to improve your balance and general fitness you might want to start initially with an inexpensive wobble board to see how you get on with it before progressing to something more challenging.
- Looking for a challenge – If you’ve tried a standard wobble board or rocker board and feel ready to try something more difficult, try something with that has greater degrees of motion, or where the fulcrum is not attached. The Indoboard, CoolBoard, or Fitterfirst Extreme balance board could be good options for you.
- On a tight budget – If your main constraint is cost, then you have a few options which are covered in more detail below. You’ll probably want to shy away from the expensive branded board and instead go for a standard rocker board or wobble board. If you don’t mind using second hand, you can usually find a bargain on eBay. Alternatively you could look at building a board yourself.
- Recovering from an injury – It’s probably best that you speak to your physiotherapist or general practitioner if you are looking for a balance board to use as rehabilitation from an injury. The type of board will vary depending on the injury, and picking the wrong board could make matters worse.
Fitandme.com has put together an excellent buyers guide to help people decide which type of exercise balance board is best for them.
Where to Buy a Balance Board
Having read all of this, you may now be asking yourself “where can I buy a wobble board”?
You’ll be pleased to know that you will find all types balance boards for sale in a wide variety of sporting outlets, both locally and online.
And in the case of the wobble board specifically, it needn’t be very expensive at all; you can buy a cheap wobble board on Amazon for under $15.
Some of the brands listed above tend to be more expensive, but they are still widely available online, either directly from the company themselves, or through a retailer.
- Online – Amazon sells a wide range of boards, including many of the brands listed here. Or as noted above you can buy direct from the brands.
- In store – You’ll also be able to find this type of equipment in your local sporting goods store, or even larger retail stores like Walmart.
- Specialty retailers – Some of these boards will be available at speciality retailers like surf or ski centres.
- Second hand – You can expect to save a lot of money if you are happy to buy second hand board on sites like eBay or Gumtree.
How to Make an Indo Board
If you were wondering how to make a balance board yourself, thankfully it can be done fairly cheaply and simply and there are lots of resources available to help with this.
As outlined above, name brand boards in particular can be quite expensive, so if you are looking for a cheap Indo board style balance board, your best option may be to go down the DIY route.
There are several popular tutorials online, including this excellent video from Matt Skalski on YouTube:
Surfing-Waves.com also has a good text based tutorial which takes you through the step by step process.
The process outlined in most of the tutorials is similar, requiring the same basic components, with a few customizations for size and style.
Get Started With Your Balance Board Exercises…
Whether you are recovering from an injury, hoping to prevent an injury or simply looking to improve your balance and core strength, balance board exercises can make a simple and effective addition to your routine.
If you have access to balance equipment in your local gym, experiment with different types of boards until you find something that is comfortable, but at the same time suitably challenging for your needs.
While you may find exercising on a balance board difficult initially, as you practice and build up your core strength over time, you will be able to workout for longer, and try more difficult positions.
If you’d like ideas for other types of home exercise equipment, check out our post here.
As always, drop us a line if you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you.