Balance & Strength Improvements

A study by Heitkamp was carried out to quantify the possible gain in strength by balance training in comparison to strength training. The study recruited 30 healthy subjects. 15 were assigned to a strength training programme and 15 to a balance training programme. The strength group worked out on two exercises devices, one for leg presses and one for leg curls. Balance training was preformed on a swinging plate (Posteromed), an unstable plate (Stabliometer), a rubber ball (to stress hamstrings), a mini trampoline (to stress quadriceps muscles) and a rolling board, Rola (for quadriceps and hamstrings) The features of all five pieces of equipment are incorporated into the BalanceMaster™ device design.

Results from the study indicate that the two groups had comparable gain on flexor and extensor strength. Balance training was deemed to be effective for gain in muscular strength, and secondly, in contrast to strength training, equalisation of muscular imbalances may be achieved after balance training. Improved muscular balance is an important part of injury prevention. The application of balance training is not only important for young and active but also for the older generation as balance and strength decreases with age (Wiksten DL 1916).

The authors conclude that ‘significant gains in strength could be shown from balance training. Most remarkably, the balance training tended to balance out strength in the right and left legs of the subjects, improving strength in the dominant leg but increasing strength in the non- dominant even more, correcting muscular imbalances between legs.” Traditional strength training with leg presses and leg curls was unable to accomplish this; in fact, in many cases the traditional training tended to broaden the imbalances between legs. This latter finding maybe of interest to athletes who run, since most running athletes have one leg which is stronger than the other and which therefore produces longer steps. Bringing the weaker leg up to par with the more robust leg might increase stride length and improve maximum running speed. Asymmetry is also a potential cause of falls and galt asymmetry in those with known sensory impairments (e.g. Parkinson’s) is a potential pathway for rehabilitations to improve functional ability.

In order to determine the usefulness of the BalanceMaster™ in the training and rehabilitation of balance in normal and injured subjects, a study was carried out by Holder-Powell. The study consisted of two groups, healthy normal subjects and healthy subjects with a history of chronic unilateral ankle sprain. A six week training programme was initiated (20mins, 3 times a week). Speed and inclination setting on the BalanceMaster™ were progressively increased. Significant differences were recorded in the 3 measurements, anterior- posterior, medical and lateral excursion and total pathway length. The study concluded that BalanceMaster™ may be useful in improving balance, as measured by postural sway.

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