Dancers’ requirements vary so much. It is asked of them to be strong, agile, flexible, and balanced all while maintaining some level of artistry and making things look easy. Dancers train in a similar way as other conventional athletes to attain the previously mentioned goals. It may just not look the same. Similar tools are often used, and today the tool we are going to discuss is the BOSU balance trainer.
The BOSU device is a very common device found in most every physical therapy office and now frequently seen in mainstream gyms. Imagine a physio Swiss ball that has a hard flat surface on one side. This tool is great for many types of balance and proprioception activities.
When standing on the BOSU, there are benefits if standing on either side. Standing on the softer domed side works the intrinsic muscles of the foot and ankle to help build strength. On the flat side, the intrinsic muscles of the foot work a little less, but the larger muscle groups tend to get taxed. Standing on either side will cause the core muscles of the abdominals and pelvis to turn on, as they naturally do whenever a balance challenge is introduced to the body. The great thing about using the BOSU is that it is not just for strengthening or challenging balance, but it is also great feedback.
Proprioception is the knowledge of where our body is in space, and often times after injury (and even sometimes when healthy), we lose track of this vital biological tool that keep us upright. If somebody is standing or squatting on a BOSU and keeps listing over to one side, the person will get the feedback that they not aligned correctly and can work on achieving a better organization of their body to maintain a neutral steady posture.
This is paramount for dancers that are doing complex positions and turns, and this goes for all style of dance. Partner-style social dancers need to find their axis and know where their body is in space just as much as non-partnered dancers. In some partnered dances, this can be even harder because the axis of balance may lie between the two dancers and counterbalances are required.
Below are some videos that were demonstrated by a young ballet dancer, but can be modified and performed by dancers of any style to help aid in strength, balance, and proprioception. Always find a safe place and start small and progress to harder moves at the appropriate time.