Meghan MacPherson, Staff Physiotherapist, BSc.Kin, MScPT, CSCS, Certified STOTT Pilates Instructor
Dare I say, as winter approaches, so does the incidence of falls and fall-related injuries. Age-related balance impairment is a major risk factor for falls and fractures.
We all seem to put focus on cardiovascular training to condition the heart, and strength and conditioning to maintain muscle bulk, but rarely to we incorporate balance training into our routines. However, integrating a difficult balance exercise is recommended to improve postural balance.
It has been shown numerous times the benefits of wobble board training in athletes for rehab of ankle sprains and the like. However, rarely is it used as a training method to increase the reaction time of the ankle musculature. This is especially relevant as postural balance using the ankle strategy (muscles of the ankle responding to perturbation and stopping the body from falling) decreases with age and lack of specific training.
A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning examined the effects of wobble board training. Results demonstrated that after two sessions of balance training for nine weeks (10 minutes each session) participants showed significant improvement in their postural control and dynamic balance. This was measured by participants being able to adapt their center of gravity on an unstable surface to maintain a standing posture. Thinking more practically, this translates to stepping on a particularly slippery spot of ice on your driveway or cutting across an uneven field in a soccer match and having the reaction speed to keep your body upright.
Regardless of age or training status, dynamic balance training is an important facet to include in your training program. Below are some strategies to start incorporating balance training into your routine.
Ogaya, S., Ikezoe, T., Soda, N., Ichihashi, N. Effects of balance training using wobble boards in the elderly. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 2011. 25(9): 2616-2622
Thank you to your staff! Thanks to your diagnosis, treatment and support I was able to fully recover from a back injury and (other minor injuries) to complete in Ironman Canada 2003. A year ago I would not have believed I'd ever do another Ironman when I was walking (not even running) around the block and unable to bend over to touch my own toes! After a year of recovery under close guidance from you and your excellent crew of doctors and of therapists, it enabled me to get to that start line. If only I could bottle some of these rushing emotions I experienced as I ran down the finishing chute and share them with the gang at SEMI. I truly thank you, all!
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