Wobble board exercises mimic what happens to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the feet, ankle and lower legs during running, and as a result build them up for the stresses that they must endure.
Rocker boards are more unstable than balance boards. Use a rocker board for exercises that move your ankle in all possible directions: front to back, side to side, circular clockwise and counterclockwise, and balance on one foot only.
Balance boards, wobble boards, rocker boards... they look like toys for kids who like skateboards, but the truth is that they are very effective, though overlooked, training tools for overall fitness and athletic ability. And they are fun to use!
Rocker and Wobble/Balance boards have been used for decades to improve balance, coordination and postural control. In fact, in 1965 Freeman et al. were the first to demonstrate the use of balance boards in preventing functional instability of the ankle following injury. Proprioceptive wobble board exercises (rocker and balance boards) has also been demonstrated to be as effective as braces and tape to prevent ankle sprains by assisting in strengthening the muscles and ligaments, influencing reaction times, and restoring proprioception of the damaged structures around the ankle.
The body has sensors all around it which sense where parts of the body are even without looking. These sensors are called proprioceptors. If the ankle or lower leg is damaged then the proprioceptors can be damaged also. If you have ever started to turn your ankle over and it has automatically righted itself then this is the proprioceptors working automatically to prevent further injury.
In the injured athlete these sensors will not work so well, increasing the chance of re-injuring the leg or ankle. This is why some people once they sprain their ankle, continue to sprain it repeatedly. Using a wobble board on a regular basis can help retrain the proprioceptors and improve coordination, hence preventing further injury. All the athlete has to do is stand on the board and try to keep it horizontal - without the edges touching the floor.
The possibilities for uses are endless, and creativity can definitely be put to good use with balance boards, but here are a handful of several specific ways that balance board training can be used in place of more tedious training methods:
With both feet on wobble board
These three wobble board exercises (move your ankle in all possible directions: front to back, side to side, circular clockwise and counterclockwise) are perfect for beginners, to get used to the feeling of the balance board. Beginners can hold onto a chair or wall at first, if necessary. This can be done while you're watching TV, talking on the phone or whatever else. These are also the standard activities recommended for people with balance problems and those in rehab programs. Once you've mastered this, try kneeling on the board and doing these three exercises. See how long you can maintain your balance and try to increase that time gradually.
(starting easy and getting harder)