A bosu ball is one of those half-balls with a flat platform on one side and a dome that looks like half a stability ball on the other side. The word BOSU is an acronym that stands for “both sides up”. Both sides up means you can use this piece of core strength training equipment with either side up or down.
I enjoy using the BOSU for this very reason. The fact that you can use “both sides up” allows me to introduce a lot of variety and creativity into workouts for both myself and clients.
Depending on the exercise you choose, using the BOSU will challenge your balance, total body strength, and improve proprioception. In order for movements to be effective, all exercises should be performed while maintaining a neutral spine and proper body mechanics.
Remember: The most important element of core strength training is using proper body position during all movements.
The ability to maintain the neutral spine during movement and exercise is paramount to safe and effective core strength training and functional movement. The neutral posture can be summarized by this: avoid extreme postural positions such as a curved or hunched upper back or an exaggerated arch of the lower spine (lordosis).
To get the most out of training with a BOSU, you should maintain a neutral spine at all times. This also causes you to strengthen muscles of the core and improve overall mobility, functionality, and athleticism.
The understanding of proper body mechanics is another important aspect of effective core strength training with a BOSU. Simply stated, using proper body mechanics protects joints from extreme and potentially damaging movements and allows you to activate target muscle groups.
If you experience joint or back pain while using the BOSU, you should check to see if you are maintaining the neutral spine or if one or more of your joints are in an extreme or unnatural position. If either is true, you should discontinue the exercise or decrease the level of difficulty immediately.
The term proprioception means having a sense of your body and joint position in space. Prioprioception is important for athletic performance, injury prevention, and even daily functional activities. Having good proprioception can save someone from damaging their hip during a slip and fall or prevent pulling a muscle when sprinting down the field.
Working with a BOSU can improve proprioception because it provides a method for practicing dynamic joint stability. In effect, the BOSU introduces an unstable surface and then teaches the user to stabilize the surface using a variety of different muscles and joints.
A real world example where dynamic joint stability would be necessary is slipping and falling on a wet or icy sidewalk. Your legs can move in two different directions. Having the ability to control them individually can easily prevent an injury.
Balance and Coordination
Using either side of the BOSU will allow you to challenge and improve both balance and coordination. Whether face up or face down, the unstable surface created by the rounded part of the BOSU forces the user to balance their own body weight at all times. For example, if the user is performing a stationary exercise such as standing on one foot, then their balance will be challenged. If the user is performing a movement oriented exercise such as a lunge, then both balance and coordination will be challenged.
If you are using curious about using a BOSU ball, I recommend giving it a try. It will be a new and fun addition to your current workout routine and by using it you can add variety to your workout plan.
While core strength training includes movements for all muscle groups, when I use a bosu ball I generally focus on using it to develop leg strength, challenge balance, improve posture, and to strengthen the rectus and transverse abdominus. I find the bosu to be a lot of fun and I recommend anyone adding it into their workout routine.
1. Integraged Balance Training by Douglas Brooks M.S.