Balance Board and Knee Pain Treatment

Using a balance board as part of your treatment for knee pain offers a faster recovery and an efficient way to prevent further injury. After a knee injury, retraining the knee joint and the surrounding muscles is essential to not only decrease knee pain but to also make the knee joint more solid.
Knee rehab has three major objectives:
1.    Regain proper range of motion
2.    Regain full proprioception
3.    Improve power and coordination
Using a balance board (wobble board type) will work on the second and third objectives of the knee pain treatment protocol.
The knee joint is the largest joint of the body. It has a complex mechanism that allows the movements of flexion and extension, as well as a slight medial and lateral rotation.  Our knees support most of our weight and they are therefore prone to injury and early degeneration if the joint is not functioning in a healthy way.
Strengthening the knee function through proper exercises is indicated for:
-       People having had a knee injury
-       People suffering from chronic knee pain
-       Athletes

When to start?
When should you start your wobble board exercises? If you had a knee injury, it is after the acute phase (inflammation, swelling) is passed that you can start training with a balance board. At this point you should have regained most of the joint amplitude (normal knee movement) and you can stand up with little to no pain in your knees.  If you are not sure of being ready, please consult your physical therapist, chiropractor or medical doctor who will advise you on that point.

The goal of the wobble board exercises is to challenge your knees in a gradual way allowing them to become stronger and more reactive. That in turn will improve function, decrease knee pain, slow down the joint aging, and help prevent future injuries.

Improving proprioception
The goal of training with a balance board is to improve your proprioception. Proprioception is the perception of our joints in space. If you close your eyes, you can still touch the tip of your nose with your index finger. Through nerve receptors within the joints of the body we have a sense of where our joints are and what they are doing. Another example of this body function is our ability to adapt to the ground as we walk. Our nerve receptors within the ankles joints inform our brain about the inclination of the ground, the little bumps and holes, allowing us to walk in a smooth way. Having an efficient proprioceptive system permits the body to adapt in refined way to its environment. Lack of physical activity or a joint injury can affect the quality of our proprioception.  Thankfully, it can be retrained through proper exercises.

Getting on the balance board
The balance board has for purpose to challenge your sense of balance which will force you to train your sense of proprioception. Like standing on one foot will challenge your balance, getting on a wobble board will allow you to do it in more challenging way.

1. Stand with both feet, and rock the board left to right, and front to back and have the edge touch the floor. Do it for 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Roll the board in a circle touching the edge on the floor. Do it for 2 minutes.
3. Balance the board trying to keep the edges off the floor as long as you can.
4. From exercise 4, squat slightly (45 degrees). Repeat 10 times.

By doing these four sets on the wobble board you will help improve your knee pain and prevent future injuries.

What is a Balance Board?

The balance board is a fitness piece of equipment that offers a fun way to train your balance. It also improves your motor coordination skills, and it strengthens your core. It also has shown to calm and relax the person after a session.

It was originally created for skiers and then surfers so they can practice their skills in the off-season. It is now used in fitness training and in therapeutic setting (knee rehabilitation, children with developmental disorders, proprioceptive training). Athletes continue to use it to improve their performances.

You can easily acquire a balance board to exercise at home. It offers a fun way to strengthen your balance and your core. The difficulty depends on the type of board you are using. Some of them are very easy to practice on. Little kids and elderly people can use them safely. While other balance boards are much more challenging and require great skills.

There are 4 types of balance boards.
Rocker Boards
It improves static balance and is an easy way to start
Rocker-boar type balance board comes with a fixed fulcrum

Underside of rocker-board 

Rocker-roller Boards
More challenging they improve dynamic balance.
Rocker-roller with a free
moving roller under the borad

Wobble BoardsThey offer a good comprise between the rocker boards (easy) and the other boards with un-attached fulcrums (the rocker-roller and the sphere-and-ring boards). 
Wobble boards are the most common types of balance
boards used due to their good mix of efficiency, fun and safety.

Sphere-and-ring Boards
The base is un-attached and the board can move in all direction making these types of balance boards the most challenging ones.
Sphere-and-ring to use with caution

3 Rules to Safely Practice the Balance Board

If you follow these 3 rules, you will reduce your risks of an injury.

1. Go gradually
Balance boards can be very challenging causing falls, sprained joints, and sometime broken bones! So you need to take it gradually and start easily. Choosing the right balance board is the first step to a safe practice. Start with an attached board as they are easier to use than the non-attached. Follow the exercises for beginners advise. As you improve your balance board skills, you can move on to more challenging exercises.

2. Clear the space around you
That may seems obvious, but you don’t want any sharp objects, edgy tables, or any piece of hard furniture that you may impact if you fall. If you follow the first advise, the risk of falling are low. However, you may need some space to catch yourself if you loose your balance.

3. Practice only when you’re sharp
Balancing yourself on an instable surface require your full attention! The senses become heightened and all your attention is focused on the task at end. Getting on wobble board when we have a buzz (or drank), feel tired and sick, or are under medication causing drowsiness is not a good idea.

Balance boards are great fun and they offer benefits to our health and level of fitness. Following these 3 rules of safety will have you enjoy the full experience!

Here’s a video from jesserzamora where no harm was experienced but it shows that it can be trickier then it seems. The person picked a challenging non-attached type.