The main aim of using a balance board is to improve proprioception, this is our sense and awareness of the position of our body parts. Having good proprioception helps to reduce the risk of injury. Balance boards can also be used by both adults and children to help improve core strength, balance and flexibility.
Performing balance board exercises has been proved to help children with coordination and behavioral problems. Improvements have been seen in rhythm, auditory and visual processing, and motor coordination in children struggling with sensory challenges and similar medical complications. In trying to maintain your balance while using a balance board the body's sensory system is trained by forcing the brain and body to focus on remaining stable in a difficult situation, meaning both halves of the brain have to work together.
There are several different types of balance boards available. The most common are round boards that sit atop an adjustable dome in the center. They mainly vary in size and material, although rocker boards (square in shape) and wobble cushions are also available and work in a very similar way.
Adjustable wobble boards are ideal for children as they can be altered to give various tilt angles, enabling children to start with a gentle tilt and then increase the difficulty as they progress.
Exercises can be carried out while standing, sitting or kneeling on the board. Training can begin with simple rocking from side to side, backwards and forwards, and rotating in circular movements. Parents can get involved by making a game out of trying to see who can stay up the longest without the edges of the board touching the ground. Difficulty can be added by trying to get the child to pass a bean bag from hand to hand or throwing the bean bag at a target whilst balancing on the board. There really are endless ways in which these products can be used to improve a child's balance, flexibility and core strength. Incorporating the exercises into a game is the best way of keeping the child's attention and encouraging regular use.
To maintain absolute safety ensure the board has a non slip surface and the child is bare foot or wearing trainers when using the board. The board is best placed on a carpet or rug as hard surfaces areiable to slip. A strong adult should stay close by to spot the child as the exercises are performed in case they lose their balance.