You use your legs all day long to get you where you're going, and being able to balance is a key ingredient to staying injury free. Instability training using a BOSU or other unstable platform can improve your balance by paving neuropathways and recruiting muscle motor units that keep you strong and steady.
Instability Training Basics
Instability training promotes good posture by forcing your body into its most stable alignment to maintain optimal weight distribution, and good posture translates to improved functional movement and reduced risk of injury. A 2012 review published in the "International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy" recommends use of unstable surfaces for rehabilitation. Another article, published by the Cybex Institute for Exercise Science found instability training to be useful for increasing ankle stability and correcting lumbar spinal dysfunction. The American Council on Exercise recommends dynamic balance training to promote symmetrical strength and balance on the right and left sides of the body, particularly through the hip and core. Leg exercises using the BOSU or other instability devices promote dynamic conditioning through your kinetic chain from head to toe.
Stand on your BOSU with your ankles aligned beneath your hips, your chest lifted and your arms at your sides; sit back into a squat with your weight on your heels and your thighs parallel to the floor while raising your arms in front of you to provide balance. Return to standing and repeat 15 to 25 times. Perform an asymmetrical squat with a knee raise by placing one foot beneath your knee in the center of the BOSU and the other planted on the floor. Sit back into a squat, then lift out of it by pushing through the heel of the elevated leg while drawing your opposite knee to your chest. Slowly lower your leg back to the floor and repeat 15 to 25 times on each leg.
Perform lunges by placing one foot beneath your knee in the center of the BOSU and stretching the other leg behind you in a lunge. Keep your toes on the floor, your back knee bent and your arms extended in front of you. Press through the heel of your elevated leg and draw your other knee to your chest as you straighten your hips, moving your arms downward to counterbalance; slowly return to your starting position. Perform 15 to 25 repetitions on each leg using a fluid, controlled movement.
Lie on your back and place both feet flat on the BOSU, hip-width apart, heels under your knees; push through your heels and lift your hips off the floor, forming a bridge between your knees and your shoulder blades. Slowly lower and repeat 15 to 25 times. Increase the intensity by placing one ankle on the knee of the opposite leg and lifting your hips with one leg. Do 15 to 25 reps on each leg.
- American Council on Exercise: 5 BOSU Exercises for Dynamic Balance
- Cybex Institute for Exercise Science: The Truth on Fitness: Should We Use Unstable Surfaces?
- International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy: The Effectiveness of Resistance Training Using Unstable Surfaces and Devises for Rehabilitation
- Trainer's Toolbox: My Favorite BOSU Exercises