Doing exercises on balance boards strengthens your lower extremities and develops your proprioception, or your understanding of where your body is in space. People who have sustained ankle injuries find these exercises especially helpful. You can buy several different types of balance boards. A rocker board is one of the easier types for beginners. This rectangular board is made of molded plastic and has two rockers underneath. It's easier to balance on than a wobble board, another common balance board, which is round on the bottom.
Single Leg Exericses
Once you get a feel for standing on your rocker board with both feet, you can progress to single leg stances. Stand with your right foot in the middle of your rocker board. Raise your left knee so your left leg is at a 90-degree angle. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Once this is easy, progress to longer holds. You can also try straightening the lifted leg or balancing with it held out to the side or reaching out behind you. For an added challenge, try closing your eyes.
Throwing and Kicking
Once you've mastered a static hold, make things interesting by adding movement to your balancing. Try standing on one leg while tossing a tennis ball up and catching it in the same hand. Then try throwing hand to hand. Or stand on one leg while kicking the other forward. If you play a particular sport, try sport-specific movements. For example, tennis players can hold a racket and pretend they're hitting forehand and backhand shots.
To strengthen your core -- and for a whole different approach to proprioception -- try sitting on your rocker board. Keep your chest lifted, your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. With your knees bent, lift your toes off the floor and balance on your buttocks. If this is easy, lift your shins until they're parallel to the floor. For extra credit, close your eyes.
Consult your doctor or physical therapist before doing rocker board exercises, especially if you're recovering from an injury. Use your rocker board in an open area. You may need space to jump off if you lose your balance. For those who need extra help with balance, get a friend to spot you or put your rocker board in a doorway so you can steady yourself. Maintain good posture while doing your exercises. It's better to do fewer reps well than to execute many poorly.