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Balance pads can be helpful but you may want alternatives. What are some other equipment options with similar benefits?
A balance pad is a piece of balance exercise equipment you can describe as a thick piece of foam. You can use balance pads for a variety of exercises to train balance, coordination, and ankle muscle strength.
Whether you don’t enjoy using balance pads, you find them too easy, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these balance pad substitutes can offer you similar benefits.
1. Balance discs
Balance discs are plastic inflatable discs sized to put one foot on them. Because of the air in them, the surface becomes uneven if you don’t distribute your weight well. In turn, this trains your balance.
The options you have when it comes to balance disc exercises are very similar to the balance pad. Some of the balance exercises include just standing on two balance discs, standing on one leg, and combining these two with arm movements.
Additionally, you can use balance discs for standard exercises to combine other fitness components with some balance training. Some of these include squats, planks, mountain climbers, etc.
Lastly, you can also use balance discs for specific ankle exercises. All of these things combined make balance discs a great balance pad alternative. You can use balance discs instead of balance pads if you want slightly more of a challenge.
Additionally, balance discs are relatively inexpensive. Even more than balance pads.
One potential downside of balance discs is that they typically don’t last as long as balance pads. If there is a hole in your balance disc you either need to fix it or get another.
2. Bosu Ball
The next balance pad alternative is a Bosu Ball. You can describe the Bosu Ball as the top of a stability ball attached to a flat surface.
Similar to balance pads, Bosu Ball can be used in a variety of exercises for balance, ankles, and a combination of balance with other fitness components like cardiovascular health and muscle strengthening.
Something relatively unique to the Bosu Ball is that it has basically two difficulty settings built-in. Balance training beginners can start with exercises where the flat part of the Bosu Ball is on the ground.
For example, Bosu ball lunges or simply standing on the Bosu Ball with one or two legs.
Once you get up to a certain skill level you can start doing Bosu Ball exercises where the round part is on the ground instead. These exercises will be more challenging.
Some exercise examples include Bosu Ball squats, mountain climbers, pushups, standing on one leg, etc.
A potential downside of Bosu Balls is that they are a relatively pricey alternative to balance pads. If this is an issue, the Bosu Ball is a brand name. Off-brand alternatives may suit your needs too.
3. Wobble board
The next option is a big step more challenging than the previous options and balance pads. Wobble boards are a flat surface, usually a circle, with a rounded bottom in the middle.
To use this balance pad alternative you stand on it and balance yourself so only the rounded bottom is in contact with the ground. You can do a variety of balance board exercises this way.
Doing these exercises will also require your ankle (or wrist) muscles to work hard.
One small study with 23 elderly individuals divided into a training group and a control group observed that balance board exercises twice a week for 9 weeks improved their standing balance compared to the control group (1).
A benefit or downside depending on your current skill level is that wobble boards are relatively challenging. If balance pads are too easy for you, wobble boards could be the next step. If not, some of the easier alternatives on this list are likely a better choice.
One definite benefit is that wobble boards are typically inexpensive because of their simple design.
A downside of wobble boards is that the “ball” at the bottom is not always made of anti-slip material. You want to choose the surface you use this equipment on wisely to avoid any accidents.
4. Exercise ball
An exercise ball, also known as a stability, swiss, or yoga ball, is a soft elastic ball. Basically the same material as the top part of a Bosu Ball but in a complete ball.
This piece of fitness equipment is typically used for upper body balance and coordination training and a few muscle strengthening exercises.
One small study looked at the impact of 12 weeks of exercises with a Bosu Ball and exercise ball twice a week compared to doing nothing on 44 elderly individuals.
They concluded that these exercise ball exercises and Bosu Ball exercises can lead to an improvement in balance and decreased risk of falling (2).
The stability ball is a great piece of workout equipment to train balance and coordination, especially in plank position exercises. Using it in certain core exercises also increases their effectiveness.
On top of these things, a stability ball is relatively budget-friendly.
A downside of the stability ball is that you are not really able to train your balance when standing up. This can make it less useful compared to certain stability ball alternatives for training balance in the same way you generally use the balance fitness component in your daily life and popular sports.
5. Roller board
Roller boards are another type of balance board. A roller board set is made up of a separate flat board and a cylinder object to balance the board on.
To use it you simply put the board on the cylinder and try to keep both sides of the board off the ground. Once that becomes too easy you can start moving or doing exercises in the balancing position to train your balance even more.
Roller boards are slightly more difficult than wobble boards. This can be both a benefit or a downside depending on your current skill level.
Something that is definitely a downside of this balance pad alternative is that roller boards can slide away from under you quite fast.
You preferably want to use this type of balance training equipment on a soft surface where falling would be less bad.
Another potential downside is that you are not able to do that many exercises on the roller board. Especially compared to some of the other alternatives like the balance discs, Bosu Ball, or wobble board. This can make rollers boards less interesting to use.