Training or Physio? The Wobble Board Can Do It All!
Have you ever wondered what piece of fitness equipment is just as suitable for both a 6ft4” body builder and a 70-year-old recovering from knee surgery? Probably not, however there is an answer to that question and that is the wobble board! In this article we look through the uses and benefits of them.
A Wobble Board does exactly as it says on the tin…it makes you wobble. But making you look as unsteady as an ungraceful duck sliding along a frozen pond isn’t the main purpose of it. Wobble boards are incredibly adaptable and can be used to build strength, intensify workouts, warm up, warm down and play a huge role in lower body and core physiotherapy.
Typically, Wobble Boards come in three different types. Plastic, wooden or rubber inflatable wobble boards. They all vary in prices and they all vary in difficulty. In most cases, the plastic wobble is the easiest to use and has the largest surface on the bottom meaning it has more stability. This is great for beginners or for people who are starting their physiotherapy and it’s not too harsh on ankle and knee joints. The wooden Wobble boards are very popular as they’re sturdier and provide a bigger challenge than its plastic counter-part. This is for the more advanced users who want to up their workouts and intensify their physio. The rubber inflatable wobble boards are by far the most advanced and the cushioned design of them means it takes a lot of skill and balance to use them during a workout. These would also be used during the most advanced physiotherapy stage or if someone just wants to generally strengthen their knee or ankle joints.
Strength training isn’t the only advantage of the Wobble Board. A lot of people also rely on them as a key part to physiotherapy. As with any major injury, the injured body part always needs strengthening after recuperation. By balancing on the wobble board after any injury to the feet, ankles, knees, hips or back, then you’re training your body to build strength in the muscles and joints that will be weakened after not being used for a short time. Again, using different workouts and incorporating a Wobble Board will gradually build up those muscles and will help with any physiotherapy.
Once you’re an advanced user of the Wobble Board then you can incorporate weights into the usage of a wobble board just like NFL superstar and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Speed, strength and reactions are a huge part of Beckham’s game when trying to catch an American football flying towards him at 60mph. This is why the wobble board is such a vital part of his training regime. Odell Beckham Jr will often be doing sets of bicep curls whilst on inflatable balance boards which not only works his arms, but also trains his core as his body tries to keep balance during the workout. You only need to visit Beckham’s Twitter or Instagram page to see him often training on these boards to give him the edge against his competition.
If you’ve done any research regarding balance training, then you’re bound to have come across the word ‘proprioception’. Now I know that you’re thinking that it sounds like the latest title of a Chris Nolan movie, however it’s a term used to describe the body’s ability to interpret and perceive spatial orientation. In other words, it stops you falling over or banging you head on low beams. Balance training with wobble boards helps nurture this which helps with day to day tasks such as walking around town, running for the bus or that precarious moment when you consider yourself an amateur ninja after dropping your phone only to catch it 0.5 seconds later. Developing your proprioception will also help in sports as it betters your reaction times. So whether you’re into your football, tennis or cheese rolling (unfortunately yes, it’s actually a sport) then incorporating a balance board into your training regime will really improve with that and also will aid in reducing the risk of injury.
A key reason as to why wobble boards are becoming ever more popular is due to how affordable they are. The JLL Plastic Wobble Board starts from £7.39 while the wooden version starts from £14.99. The JLL Inflatable Wobble Balance Board starts from £6.99 so they’re very easy on the bank balance. All three versions of the wobble are also easily storable so they won’t take up a lot of space in the home or even a suitcase!
Eager to start balance training myself, I took to the JLL Inflatable Wobble Board (jumping in at the deep end!) and started the following simple exercises:
- Stand on the wobble board with both feet. The rotate the board a number of time in each direction. This improves leg strength and ankle range of motion (R.O.M). This should be done 10 times in sets of 3.
- Still standing on it with both feet, rotate the board so that the edges are touching the floor at all times. The board should be rotating in circular motion which is great for the hips, knees and ankles. Do this 10 times in sets of 3.
- To squat normally is a good workout, doing it whilst standing on a wobble board makes it that more difficult but also effective. Try this 10 times for 3 sets.
- To improve reactions, stand on the wobble board and throw a tennis ball against a wall catching it with 1 hand (2 if you struggle to begin with). This can also be done with a partner and will improve your reactions and balance superbly. Again, 10 times in 3 sets.
- Finally, press-ups on a wobble board works the upper body much more effectively than a standard press up. To keep balance while still lifting your body weight concentrates the muscle fibres so they’re worked to a higher intensity. 10 reps for 3 sets again please!
Try to limit the rest periods in between each workout to 30-60 seconds to really work up a sweat. If you feel like a more advanced user then try this but on one leg, and then swap over to the other leg. Once I completed this, I really felt like I’d given my core, legs and upper body a good workout. If you’re trying this yourself then aim to do it a couple of times a week to keep improving your balance and core strength. Don’t just stop there though. Be creative with your wobble board. Simple things such as doing your usual dumbbell workouts on a wobble board will intensify your workout to a huge degree.
So do you fancy working out like some of the top athletes in the world? Or are you looking for an effective and simple physiotherapy routine that will get you back on your feet? Invest in a wobble board and you won’t feel low about it (unless you’re squatting on one, then you’ll probably feel quite low)