Balance & Stabilization Training Zone!

Biomechanically Based Dynamic Balance and Strength Training

By Mary C. Repking, PT, CSCS

Conventional balance training often consists of numerous random exercises, increasing in perceived difficulty. Does utilizing a multi-directional balance board offer the ability to progress balance and strength training along an organized systematic path of least to most difficult.

Consider an approach based on the biomechanics of the movement of joints and mechanical advantage or disadvantage of the musculature rather than on general balance training of miscellaneous exercises. Application of knowledge of muscle origin, insertion, function and biomechanical science allows the trainer to progressively challenge the athlete. Use of a tri-planar rather than a multi-directional balance board can assist the trainer and athlete in this endeavor.

Utilizing Tri-stretch in its “normal” position allows the lower leg muscles to load in the sagittal plane while still allowing dynamic instability in the frontal and transverse planes. Tri-stretch also allows for control of the instability secondary to the frontal plane rockers providing a stable endpoint. This allows for higher intensity medicine ball exercises to be successfully performed without loss of balance.

Tri-Stretch

By placing the Tri-stretch device backwards, in a more plantar flexed position, the ability of the calf to decelerate movement of the exercise selected will be lessened. This position therefore calls on the more proximal muscles of the hip and core to control the motion of the exercise selected.

Although the Tri-stretch device can be allowed to oscillate on its frontal plane rocker, it can also be utilized to pre-position the joints and muscles and held in that position as the exercise is executed. For instance, performing an exercise with the Tri-stretch device tipped inward on its inside rocker and held there would be a more protective position for a squat exercise to be performed after an acute lateral ankle sprain. Changing the preposition for each squat can allow for a squat program which takes the athlete(whether recovering from an injury or healthy and working hard to improve performance) through a sequence of progressing difficulty: from multiple muscles and joints working together- to systematically reducing the mechanical advantage of particular musculature- to integrated isolation of particular musculature. More specifically, the Tri-stretch can be utilized to initially allow the hip musculature to assist the quadriceps in each of the three planes and then systematically tweak out the advantage of the hip in each of the three planes (one plane at a time or in combination) to isolate the quadriceps out in an integrated fashion.

Application of functional biomechanics to the exercises that the athlete performs and to the equipment that is utilized provides for a much more systematic progression of strength and balance training. Utilization of a tri-planar device such as the Tri-stretch is a tool that allows the trainer to design multiple new exercises in a methodical progression that are just not possible without such a tool.

Each Tri-stretch device comes with a free instructional DVD on dynamic strength and balance training for the lower extremity and core.