Bosu vs. wobble board: there's really no competition. Both grant similar workouts. And their purpose is the same. Either will strengthen muscles while training the vestibular system -- the system responsible for balance and orientation -- to withstand sudden twists and turns. Talk with your doctor before using a Bosu or wobble board, especially if you have a balance disorder.
Have Ball, Will Exercise
Make that half a ball, actually. Bosus resemble a medium-sized stability ball, sawed in half and glued to a round board. Bosus are usually 10 inches high and 26 inches around, and similar to a wobble board, Bosus' bubble shape creates enough instability to challenge your core. You'll gain balance while standing, sitting or kneeling on its flexible polyethylene surface. That's because the Bosu confronts your center of gravity -- head on. Up your game and flip the contraption over. Upside down, use the Bosu as if it were a wobble board.
Look, a Rocking Board
Wobble boards, or balance boards, rely on instability. Boards have raised, unstable swaying tops attached to bottom platforms. Tops shifts with the slightest distribution of weight between your feet, forcing you to engage your core to stay balanced. Wobble boards are mildly versatile -- you can get an upper and lower body workout, if you're creative. Use your board to push off from next time you do bent-knee pushups. Or strengthen your glutes, quads and hamstrings -- you know, your thighs -- with squats. Scoot your feet to the edges and lower your bottom. The key here is keeping your abs tight and your knees behind your middle toes, while balancing the board. Slowly raise your bottom and do eight to 12 reps, or until your thighs quiver with fatigue.
Preoccupy Yourself With Proprioception
Proprioception starts in the utricle when otoliths, free-floating calcium deposits within the inner ear canal, brush against cilia and fast track signals to your brain. Their primary job: keeping you balanced when doing any movement that disrupts your center of gravity -- i.e. twisting, turning, flipping. Sometimes, though, otoliths escape and aggravate other sections of the inner ear. When this happens, simple motions -- twisting your upper body or rotating your head in the swimming pool -- can make you dizzy. Proprioception training combats imbalance though. Bosus and wobble boards, for example, throw you off-kilter -- on purpose. And for good reason. If your vestibular system is naturally off-key, then a few stray ear crystals will quickly sideline you. Inflated Bosu tops, in particular, help with balance training.
Strength Comes When Wobbling
Pick your poison -- wobble or Bosu, both activate and stabilize your trunk muscles more than floor exercises -- up to 47.3 percent, note David Behm and Juan Carlos Colado. Behm and Colado analyzed studies looking into how unstable equipment affected muscles to get the above stat. Instability training strengthens your core and lower back muscles, without added resistance. Plus, it strengthens and stabilizes smaller muscles and joints in the limbs, such as the ankles.
- Balance Training; Karon Karter
- Functional Training Program for Sports; Michael Boyle
- Running Anatomy; Joe Puleo and Patrick Milroy
- International Journal Sports Physical Therapy: The Effectiveness of Resistance Training Using Unstable Surfaces and Devices for Rehabilitation
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.