Is Unstable Surface Training Good At All?

    (For healthy individuals) Unstable surface training is probably all the rage in commercial gyms.  I do not know if it is a fact but in the past as a general member at a commercial gym I would conclude that it was.  At the university I attended, their gym had many people balancing on BOSU balls doing something that is supposed to recruit a better core stabilization pattern .  Similar to many ideas, the pendulum has swung too far.  People usually associate unstable surface training with only standing on BOSU balls but it can be used rather effectively if you do not go to that extreme.  Logic would tell me that if you cannot balance or stabilize on a stable surface (the ground) that an athlete or person should not be on some half-domed inflatable device.  BOSU balls are poor choices for unstable surface training because they can put the foot/ankle in an awkward unwanted position.  Often times, unstable surface aficionados will state the research for having good EMG activity for these exercises. Big EMG numbers does not necessarily mean that it is something you should be doing.  Back in the Boston Hockey Summit, Charlie Weingroff talked about how EMG research does not tell the whole story.  High EMG for one single muscle can neglect the

     Single leg exercises or unilateral leg exercises is in my opinion a far superior way to start if someone can demonstrate some bilateral strength.  Typically, with younger athletes it is a smarter option to start with simple squat and hinge patterns and progress to their single leg alternatives with time as long as they continue to move well.  Start with basic single leg exercises and master those.  An airex pad is a much wiser choice for an unstable surface training effect for an experienced lifter.  Specifically, this could be a good idea for a week to deload the joints.

  • If you cannot do single leg exercises like 1-leg DB SLDL, Reverse Lunges, Split Squats then why be doing anything on a BOSU anyway?
  • Move well in the above movement and once you master those, try an airex pad split-squats/1-legged squats
  • Quit standing on that balloon for every exercise : )

Cheers,

Matt



Categories: Core Training

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