“Balance Boarding improves your balance.”
Well – this sounds obvious, right? But do you actually know, what else is going on in your body and brain, while you are killin’ it on your loved Woazboard?
Today we will dig a little deeper and explore balance boarding from another perspective.
Human bodies are amazing. I mean, just imagine yourself stepping on your balance board for the first time. The board underneath your feet moves like crazy, you feel like you are riding a bull and your body tries hard to stay centered. But after a few attempts, you manage to finally stay on the board. You feel like you are in control of the movement now.
This process is called motor learning! It happens all the time when we are learning new motor skills. During the process you are going through the following stages:
If you have never tried balance boarding before, you might need instructions first, before stepping on your Woazboard. In this phase, you are probably also dealing with a lot of errors and a high variability of your performance. At this point, the frontal and parietal areas of your brain are overactive, because of the high attentional request. This means, right now you are not able to focus on anything else than this single task.
In the second phase, your movement becomes smoother and less errors occur. This part consists of the consolidation of your motor performance.
Now you enter the third phase, in which your performance feels almost automatic. You are in control of your board and your movements seem to be safe and natural. At this point, automatism is associated with optimized activity of your cortical and subcortical motor areas in the brain and lesser reliance on attention-executive networks.
Congrats! It means that you are now able to focus on new movements while you are standing on your board. Get out your juggling balls or work on your first Woazboard trick and challenge your brain again!
Of course, this process won’t feel the same for everybody. For some of you, one of the phases might be longer, for others it will be shorter. This depends on a lot of different aspects, like the type of sports you are practicing, your age, your physical fitness, your surroundings and even things like your stress level, the weather and many more.
Thanks to equilibrioception (our sense of balance), we are able to stand, walk and even ride Woazboards without falling on our nose all the time. The visual system (eyes) , the vestibular system (inner ears) and the proprioception (awareness of the position and movement of the body) play a key role in our sense of balance. Have you ever tried to close your eyes while standing on your balance board? It will be A LOT harder, than with open eyes. (Please don’t try this at home without another person holding your hands).
A lot of studies show, that balance training has effects on changes in static postural sway and dynamic balance in both athletes in various sports and in nonathletes. But there is even more! Apparently balance training could also improve your memory, spatial cognition and neuromuscular control.
But what exactly is neuromuscular control, what makes balance training so special and how can you adapt Woazboarding to your individual lifestyle and needs?
We will talk about all of this in PART 2 of this article.