With the Balance or Wobble Board being brought into the limelight in the mid 70’s all eyes were focused on the physical aspect of how it could improve your balance for surfing. Quickly everyone realized that using the wobble board could not just improve your balance but have a positive effect on many of your fine motor skills.
Somewhere down the road new findings were brought to light about the psychological benefits from balance training. It can help improved our Cognition which is how we process thought. This came with increased ability to learn new material and sequence information. No one could have imagined a simple device having such an impact on people’s lives yet more things were being uncovered. There were improved speech sounds and more able to integrate sensory information and this was only part of it.
On the behavioral side there was an increase in motivation and organization and others felt it was good in overcoming the effects of emotional stress. Some have seen an increase in self-esteem with improvement in visual and reading.
So why are all these things possible from a simple exercise like balancing, could it be that a better sense of balance through exercise is a whole brain activity and not just a left or right side? As they say your left brain is more practical/logical and the right brain is more artistic and juggling is good for brain activity then perhaps balancing is just what the brain needs to get sides working together.
So why is a sense of balance so important and how does if effect the things we take for granted like getting up and walking to another room? Two key items that play a huge role in our balance is the Vestibular System and Preconception.
Vestibular system sub serves the bodily functions of balance & equilibrium by assessing head & body movement and position. It does this by generating a neural code representing this information & distributing this code to appropriate sites throughout the nervous system. Vestibular function is largely reflex & unconscious in nature.
Proprioception is a term to describe joint position sense. All ligaments contain receptors known as mechanoreceptors and their role is to tell the brain the position a joint is in.
Balance board activities train the whole sensory system by working with the proprioception and the vestibular systems. This is why the benefits of balance are so important especially when used in combination with other sensory activities. This activates our brain the entire brain and opens up our sensory channels for more efficient learning. When standing on the balance board we involve both hemispheres of the brain so information taken in is learned faster and retained longer. So a simple device that was redesigned to help some surfers has emerged as training tool for our physical and mental enhancement.