The small stabilizing muscles in your body play a role in pretty much every action you do. But unlike your biceps or glutes, they're pretty tricky to max out with standard strength training exercises. Enter, the balance board.
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Balance and wobble boards can help build strength in these small muscles across your body, improving your overall stability, balance and proprioception (your sense of body positioning), according to Winnie Yu, DPT, CPT, a New York-based physical therapist at Bespoke treatments and certified personal trainer. In the long run, that adds up to improved sports performance and a lower risk of injury.
So, to help you start building balance and stability, we chatted with Yu and nailed down the 10 best balance boards you can buy.
1. Best for Standing Desks: StrongTek Anti Fatigue Board
This is one of the best balance boards for standing desks. And considering so many of us use standing desks in the office or at home, it's a must-have. But having a cushioned board, like StrongTek's product, can also help relieve tension from standing for long periods of time, according to Yu.
"I like this board because it allows users to comfortably shift their weight to activate different posture muscles and minimize fatigue from standing throughout the day," she says.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $59.99
2. Best Basic: BOSU Balance Trainer
When you think of a balance board, the BOSU is probably what first comes to mind. And for good reason.
"I love the BOSU because it can be used in so many ways, and to train so many different muscle groups," Yu says." It's definitely one of my go-to choices of equipment for my patients at any stage of rehab."
You can use this trainer flat-side up or dome-side up for strength, stability, flexibility and agility training. And considering it's got about 8 pounds to it, you can use it as a strength tool, too.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $179.95
3. Best for Small Spaces: EVERYMILE Wobble Board
Don't have a ton of free space for a BOSU in your home gym? This EVERYMILE board is an ideal alternative, according to Yu.
It's a much smaller version and weighs only about 3.5 pounds, so it's easy to carry around the house.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $34.99
4. Best for Core Strength: Stealth Core Trainer
Let's face it: Planks, no matter how beneficial they are, aren't always a fun exercise. But this core-training board adds a little fun, according to Yu.
You can place your phone in the cell-sized hole on the board and play games while training your core. Every purchase comes with four core-strengthening games included to help keep you engaged (pun intended) and track your progress.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $149
5. Best for Beginners: ProsourceFit Core Balance Disc Trainer
Yu recommends this balance trainer for anyone that's trying balance board exercises for the first time. In her physical therapy practice, she uses this type of device for early stages of rehab.
It offers a flat, yet unstable surface for you to build foundational stability and strength, she says. And the cushion is safe for sensitive joints like your knees and ankles.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $146
6. Best Advanced: Revolution 101 Board Trainer
This board is best for high-level athletes who want to challenge their core stability or reactive skills, Yu says. More unstable than the others, this one provides a great challenge for developing skills in sports like skateboarding or ice hockey.
Unlike standard wooden balance boards, this one has a high-grip but cushioned surface, giving your feet a little extra comfort.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $129.95
7. Best for All Levels: Revolution FIT 3-in-1 Exercise Board Training System
This board includes a cushion, half-rocker base and roller, all of which add a different level of challenge to your balance exercises, according to Yu. So, instead of buying a new board as you improve your stability, you can start with the cushion, move to the half-rocker as you improve and progress to the roller when you're confident in your skills.
"I like that this board gives users the option to vary their training to match their goals at different parts of rehabilitation and fitness levels," she says.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $179.95
8. Best Multipurpose: 4TH Core Balance Board
The 4TH Core board is more than just a balance board — it's a piece of multipurpose training equipment, Yu says. Sure, you can totally use this board for standard balance and stability exercises. But considering its made with soft cork, you can use the roller portion all over for muscle recovery.
Plus, the soft material keeps your floors scratch-free.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $89.99
9. Best for Board Athletes: URBNFit Wooden Trainer
Anyone looking to include a higher level of balance and coordination training in their workouts is sure to love the URBNFit, according to Yu.
Thanks to its high-grip tape, this skateboard-style board provides a safe surface to practice the skills and body control needed for sports like surfing, snowboarding and (of course) skateboarding, she says.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $53.97
10. Best for Kids: Wooden Wobble Balance Board for Kids
Ever watch your kids run around the backyard or playground? Kids fall down. A lot. But building balance and stability from a young age can help prevent injury. And this wooden wobble board is a great way to do so, Yu says.
"This is a fun, versatile option for postural and sensory development that I would definitely use with a pediatric patient," she says. After all, helping your kids build good posture at a young age can carry on for years to come.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $69.96
3 Factors to Consider When Buying a Balance or Wobble Board
1. Your Stability Levels
Your current balance and stability levels are the first thing to consider before you buy a board, Yu says. For those looking to build foundational stability, a BOSU ball or rubber balance trainer are the safest options. They offer more stability than skateboard-style balance boards and are usually made with a softer material for extra joint protection.
Those looking to improve their balance for a sport are probably advanced enough to use a device with a rocker at the center. These are the least stable variety and take quite a bit of strength and stability to use, Yu says.
If you're buying a wobble board as a part of an injury rehab protocol, it's best that you ask your doctor or physical therapist to make a recommendation. That helps guarantee you stay safe and injury-free.
2. Board Material
There are tons of different balance boards out there, all with different surfaces and materials. Although there's no one material that's best for everyone, Yu prefers one made from either plastic or rubber, rather than wood because they can last longer and offer a little more protection to your floors.
But if the product you like happens to be made out of wood, you can just put a towel or yoga mat under your device to protect scratch-prone floors.
3. Your Budget
The best balance boards range anywhere from around $15 to $200. So, your available budge plays a part in which boards fit your needs.
However, a lot of gyms and physical therapists' offices already have balance trainers. Play with them! Once you try them out, you'll have a better idea how much money you want to invest.