Last Updated on
Seeking better balance in your life? You should be on the hunt for the best balance board. In this article, we will take a look at the different kinds of boards and what you should look for. Maybe you have seen one before but are wondering why do you need one? Consider first, how your balance system operates and why that is a vital component to mastering almost all sports.
Balance – How Does It Work?
When you are very young, from the moment your body has the physical strength to hold itself up, you start to toddle. Your supercomputer brain begins to develop the vestibular cortex.
This relies on balance-sensory input from your inner ears, which contain sophisticated motion detectors called semi-circular canals.
There are 3 in each ear and each canal is paired with another canal in the opposite ear but orientated in the same plane of motion. In this way, they detect directional movement.
Another vital sensory input is the stress and tension detected by your proprioception. Throughout your body, you have Proprio-receptors that detect muscle and joint movement. These detectors are particularly rich in the souls of your feet.
The final ingredient is visual input to your balance system is visual input. This is your spatial orientation in the world around you. The balance center in the brain progressively learns to integrate this sensory information and then match it with an appropriate musculoskeletal response.
Train Your Balance Brain
It is easy to get lost in the sophistication and outstanding appearance of engineering within your balance system. However, the key to unlocking the potential of your balance system is realizing that it should be trained and stimulated if it is to develop.
Balance is learned. Yet, the opposite is true also. Your balance system, if it is not continually challenged can become de-skilled. It is a highly dynamic system.
Your balance progressively improves as you place greater demands on your physical movements. Your balance can deteriorate following a long period of ill health or inactivity. Also, as you age your balance can deteriorate.
Nonetheless, if you train balance-system, you can rehabilitate it.
Balance and Sport
These two go hand in hand. They are perfect partners.
It is fair to say, almost every sport that has some kind of dynamic element to it requires good balance. Not only that but your balance feeds into your coordination.
As your balance improves, you are giving your body and brain the best tools with which to develop your skill level in any particular sport.
Balance and Balance Boards
Now that you understand the nature of your balance system better and how it thrives on stimulation and this connection with sport, you can see why balance boards are proving to be so popular.
Yes, it is as simple as using a balance board for as little as 10 minutes a day to strengthen your balance system. It might be hard to believe, but this simple activity will yield rewards in other activities because they all rely on your balance-system.
The Best Balance Boards
There are lots of different designs and many different reasons why you may choose one board over another. To make things easier, you can read about the 4 main design features here, and in doing so you will see more clearly which is the best balance board for you.
Circular and Solid Base
This type of board is an excellent basic start. It can rotate 360 degrees and also tilt around 15 degrees. It will support about 300 lbs in weight. The surface has a grip layer that will give you stability on your feet.
This simple type of board is versatile, lightweight and easy to store. When stood on it you can before a whole range of movements that will tax your balance system. These types of boards are good value are often the cheapest on the market starting from around $20 onward.
For example, consider the Pro Fitness Wooden Balance Board. You will see from the reviews this board can make a real difference to your balance. It is also excellent to see that many people innovate when using by combining it with dumbbell curls to better engage the core and also using it on a roll mat.
A similar balance board is Sportneer Wooden Balance Board. This board is well reported on by consumers. A recurring observation is that it is well constructed and can easily manage a heavyweight. This balance board comes in a two pack so you can get one for you and your workout buddy.
Circular with Air-Filled Based
This type of board is similar in appearance to the above, however, the base is inflated with air. This creates a base that will yield to your weight and in which you will have to shift your weight in order to remain on the board and maintain an upright position.
The surface is textured to offer grip. This will definitely challenge your balance system as the souls of your feet will not be solidly grounded. In effect, this type of balance board reduces the proprioception from your feet to your brain.
This means your brain has to tune in more to the balance-input coming from your inner ears and also your eyes.
If you have developed any balance problems as a result of illness or inner ear disease, this could be a great rehabilitation tool. The starting price point is around $30.
For example, consider the Bintiva Inflated Stability Wobble Cushion. This has excellent reviews and you will see that it also has many uses apart from improving balance.
It can be used as a cushion and to kneel on and in a variety of helpful ways. This is well made and a very flexible tool.
In this category, another example is the King Athletic Stability Balance Disc. This is a high-quality product that is very robust. It will stay inflated for a long time without leaking air and many users report excellent results in using it to improve lower back mobility and posture.
Flat Deck on Cylindrical Base
This type of balance board possibly looks the coolest. The style is more akin to a skateboard, snowboard, bodyboard or beach skimboard.
The cylindrical base is free moving under the surface of the deck. This will require skill to master. It is more demanding from the outset and its use is more towards the fun end of the spectrum as opposed to pure balance training.
That said, if you master this over time, it will do wonders in developing your balance. That is if you do not hurt yourself first. So be warned, these types of boards need to be used with care.
Prices vary a lot depending on the style and look of the board. you can expect to start paying anything from $100 onwards.
This style board is definitely the best balance board for core strength. For example, consider the URBNFit Balance Board Trainer – Roller Board. This is a very strong board supporting up to 800 lbs. It not only offers an excellent way to strengthen your core but it also helps to work your inner thighs.
An alternative is the Revolution 101 Balance Trainer. This is a similar product to the above, however, this board has stoppers either end of the board to help stop scratches on the floor. It is good fun and well made.
Flat Deck with Multi-Point Base
This is similar to the above but incorporates not only tilt from side to side and front and back, but also the element of twist and rotation using multiple base points. Increasing the dimension and direction of movement makes this an excellent tool for developing your balance.
The solid surface, just like the above deck, serves to train the brain to better use and integrate all your balance sensory inputs. That means training your balance system to respond better to the sensory information coming from the souls of your feet.
This type of board has excellent application in training your balance for working with board based sports. Price starts around $100
Here are some examples to consider in this category.
The Whirly Board has 3 fixed base points. One large in the center of the board and 2 at either end of the board. A recurring opinion in the reviews is that this board is very challenging.
Looking for the best balance board for standing desks? The Pono Board follows the same concept with multiple base points, however, each point is in the corners. That means it will be easier to use than the Whirly Board. Many users report excellent results when using this at their standing desk.
If you want to do squats with your balance board and combine with weights to build core strength, this could be a good option. An alternative to using dumbbells is to use a medicine ball.
Variations on the Above
There are other styles of boards that basically replicate what the 4 main designs do above, but look different and are constructed differently.
For example, one style Strong Board has two boards separated by strong springs. This will provide a shift in all directions but will not rotate. The price tag is coming in higher, but you’re looking at a much higher quality piece of equipment that can do a lot more for you.
Another style is a variant of the flat deck Kinderfeets Balance Board only that the shape is curved creating a shallow u-shape. This means it is both deck and base all at the same time. It’s design and intended for children, but is rated to hold up to 220 lbs.
Considerations Before Buying
Some of these boards look cool and look great fun. Some are very cheap at around $20 and others are much more expensive costing several hundred dollars.
Before you buy, first ask yourself, what is my objective?
- Do you want to just have fun and more passively develop your balance?
- Do you want to use a balance board as a game at school, at home or as part of fun activities when you throw your next BBQ?
- Or, are you someone who seriously wants to develop their balance for sports that demand a lot from your balance system, such as, snowboarding or skateboarding?
Price and Use
Don’t assume the most expensive will automatically meet all your goals. You need to define what your goal is first and then follow the principles of balance and its development outlined in this article.
For example, you could purchase a very expensive deck with a circular base but it may be that what you really need to develop your balance is a rotational movement. There may be cheaper options that will give you the rotational element but not the cool stickers.
Remember, the best balance boards were invented by creative people. Pushing your balance to the next level requires creativity and diversity in how you move.
Try not to limit yourself just to the ideas and suggestions in the guidance manual. Think outside the box. Think of new and different ways to test yourself using the balance board.
For example, if you use an inflated style, try varying the amount of air you use in the base. If you use a cylindrical base, try using it on a roll matfirst to slow it down and then advance to hard smooth surfaces.
Another idea is to listen to music so as to stimulate and occupy your brain. You may be surprised how much more difficult it is to keep your balance.
Most of all, have fun. If you have questions you can get in touch here.