by Erik Dalton Ph.D.
Many therapists wrestle with maintaining proper body mechanics, but some have discovered a simple exercise tool that dramatically enhances their therapeutic skills. I’ve found that training five to 10 minutes a day on a rocker board significantly improves my balance, core stability, strength and endurance. Since balance is the critical building block making movement possible, any exercise to improve balance will surface in the quality of your touch.
Clients consciously or unconsciously sense if a therapist is centered and balanced. In the absence of dynamic body balance, therapists’ movements often are awkward and jerky, known as the “jiggling hands” syndrome. Conversely, a body worker with a firm and steady touch exudes confidence as body weight travels evenly through the hands, torso, pelvis, and into the legs and feet to form a stable working foundation.
How Do Balance Boards Work?
When the body senses a change of surface, it self-corrects to achieve appropriate positions for that particular movement. These rapid adjustments rely on proprioceptors embedded in muscles, ligaments and joints to detect speed and degree of stretch. The body’s proprioceptors are highly refined motion sensors, and balance boards help train these sensors. While the square rocker board (Fig. 1) allows for one plane of instability, the round wobble board (Fig. 2) provides multiple planes for the most challenging workout. Rocker and wobble boards are fun and safe, but be sure to purchase one with a tactile surface on top and nonskid surface below, such as those depicted in the photos.