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How can I incorporate unstable environments into my training program?

It is important to remember the individual, the task, and the activity demands they encounter before just progressing to unstable training. Creating unstable training environments is not for everybody. If the individual is at need and have progressed appropriately the BOSU Ball, stability balls, wobble boards, and airex pads are tools for the job. 

The above tools can enhance foundational movement patterns for individuals. From the standing upright position (1 or 2 legs), individuals can perform varying lunges from or onto the BOSU ball or airex pads. Squats (1 or 2 legs)can also be performed on wobble boards and BOSU balls. Individuals can start ground training from the prone-supine-side lying position, and perform reaches, swings, and lifts on the balls or airex pads.

It is important to remember that balance training is not static in nature, authentic balance is dynamic and three-dimensional. An individual needs to challenge their thresholds in accordance to the goal and task, by moving in all dimensions with an ability to accelerate and decelerate the moves.

There are many ways to incorporate unstable environments into your training program. My personal favorites that I include with my clients and bootcamps are the BOSU, TRX, STABILITY BALLS, BOXES/STEPS or SINGLE LEG exercises. The Bosu is great because both sides are utilized and it increases the number of muscles you use in order to stabilize your body effectively during your exercise. TRX is fully functional and can be used anywhere and is super fun to use. Boxes and steps challenge your balance and single leg exercises challenge you all over in order to complete the exercise of choice while maintaning proper form. Simply enhance your current workout regimen by either completing some type of balance or unstable exercise of choice at the beginning of your workout or as a cooldown. You will notice a big difference in your strength and balance in a matter of days!

An easy way to incorporate an unstable environment or proprioception into your training is to use a BOSU ball.  A BOSU (both sides utilized)  looks like a smaller stability ball that has been cut in half, with a flat side and a ball/ bubble side.  Stand on the ball/bubble side to add some challenge to squats or flip it over so the flat side faces up to try a pushup.  Both sides will give you an opportunity to practice your balance and increase your strength.

Baseball and softball players can benefit from training in unstable environments in a number of ways. First, as in many sports, athleticism requires the ability to stabilize, decelerate, and accelerate in all three planes of motion. In order to move efficiently, optimal balance is required. Balance is an essential part of the swing and throw mechanics. Using an apparatus such as a stability ball, BOSU, TRX, or trampoline can increase the intensity of exercises that are traditionally done on stable ground. If you don't have access to gym equipment, consider performing your training in the sand.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.