Injuries prevention, physical therapy and rehabilitation
Injuries prevention, physical therapy and rehabilitation… with balance boards
Apart from entertainment purposes, training with balance board can be used in various kinds of injuries prevention, rehabilitation and physical therapy.
Of the injuries faced by walkers, hikers, and runners, ankle tweaks and sprains account for a fat majority. But you don't have to be an athlete or even a "weekend warrior" to turn your ankle and hurt it. Something as simple as walking on an uneven surface can cause a painful, debilitating sprain. Ankle injuries can happen to anyone at any age. Every day in the U.S., 25,000 people sprain their ankle.
An ankle injury occurs when the ankle joint is twisted too far out of its normal position. Most ankle injuries occur either during sports activities or while walking on an uneven surface that forces the foot and ankle into an unnatural position (WebMD, 2018).
As you can see, no matter if you are a professional athlete or not, there is a reason to take care of your ankles. There are several ways to build ankle strength for top performance and one of them is balance training. Phil Astrachan recommends simple standing on one leg exercise as well as using the balance board to train your foot rotation (Astrachan, 2006).
Several studies show that proprioceptive balance board training is effective for the prevention of ankle sprain recurrences. One of them (Verhagen et al.,2011) was conducted with 116 male and female volleyball teams followed prospectively during the 2001-2002 season. Participants were divided into two groups — intervention teams followed a prescribed balance board training program; control teams followed their normal training routine. As a result of the study, significantly fewer ankle sprains were found in the intervention group compared to the control group. A significant reduction in ankle sprain risk was found only for players with a history of ankle sprains. These results allow drawing the conclusion that use of a proprioceptive balance board program is effective for the prevention of ankle sprain recurrences.
Another study (Caraffa et al., 1996) was conducted with 600 soccer players in 40 semiprofessional or amateur teams. Researchers studied the possible preventive effect of a gradually increasing proprioceptive training on four different types of wobble-boards during three soccer seasons. Their results indicate that proprioceptive training can significantly reduce the incidence of anterior cruciate ligament — ACL injuries — in soccer players.
According to physical therapist Brad Heineck, “a balance board will help to strengthen the ankle, but will also help with the joint position sense – knowing where your ankle is in space.” With ankles injuries being the most common of all sports injuries, it’s clear that balance board is a fantastic physical therapy tool. Balance board training and physiotherapy are an ideal match for many reasons…
First of all balance board training improves proprioception. Making proprioception feedback cycle more efficient, your reaction time will be improved, which will allow you to recover rather than fall. Secondly, balance board training strengthens the ankles, which (as we mentioned above) are one of the most common injured body parts. Balance training also improves coordination and joint stability. This kind of workout also brings pain relief, because training on a balance board you increase the blood supply to the affected area. This brings immediate benefit in terms of pain relief by delivering healing nutrients to the cells. Because balance board training is graduated and starts at a very accessible level it makes balance board great equipment for rehabilitation and fall prevention of the elderly.
What’s more balance board workout is fun and challenging. It is known that the key to long-term success for physical therapy patients is regularity of movement. However, many of the traditional floor-based exercises that physios prescribe are just downright boring. This makes it difficult for a patient to find the motivation to keep them up. Exercising on the balance board, however, is a fun and challenging way to perform your rehab.
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy
The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that process the sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movements. If disease or injury damages these processing areas, vestibular disorders can result. Vestibular disorders can also result from or be worsened by genetic or environmental conditions, or occur for unknown reasons. People with vestibular disorders often experience problems with vertigo, dizziness, visual disturbance, and/or imbalance. These are the problems that Vestibular rehabilitation (VR), or vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) aims to address.
VR is a specialized form of therapy intended to alleviate both the primary and secondary problems caused by vestibular disorders. It is an exercise-based program primarily designed to reduce the symptoms mentioned above. For most people with a vestibular disorder, the deficit is permanent because the amount of restoration of vestibular function is very small. However, after the vestibular system damage, people can feel better and function can return through compensation. This occurs because the brain learns to use other senses (vision and somatosensory, i.e. body sense) to substitute for the deficient vestibular system. The health of particular parts of the nervous system (brainstem and cerebellum, visual, and somatosensory sensations) is important in determining the extent of recovery that can be gained through compensation.
One of the exercises used in this therapy is Balance Training exercise. This type of exercise is used to improve steadiness so that daily activities for self-care, work, and leisure can be performed successfully.
If you want to strengthen your muscles, your injuries require rehabilitation or if you are a physiotherapist, try out balance board training!