Deconstructing the BOSU

I'm not sure what it is about the BOSU half-ball. By the looks of it, there are a LOT of athletes, average Janes and Joes, soccer moms, personal trainers, physical therapists, and other professionals who believe the BOSU has some kind of mighty mystical properties.

Is there something in the BOSU ball that I'm not aware of? Is it filled with a slurry of emu oil and electromagnetically charged ground up unicorn horns?

I think the far majority of exercises on the BOSU are simply, well...dumb. At best they are a waste of time relative to other aspects of performance and fitness that you could be working on during training. For the most part, they are a pointless test of your ability to remain uninjured.

Here's a case of high injury risk with little, if any benefit. Tuck jumps demand a lot of the legs and core. When many athletes have difficulty jumping and landing on flat ground with adequate control, this guy is having his clients do it on a BOSU.

Truly, there are so many dumb things you can do on a BOSU.

These are not going to improve your strength, stability, or mobility any more or less than pretty much any activity that does not involve you sitting in front of a TV or computer. These are not even going to improve your balance in a way that is relevant to functional athletic performance. The one thing that such BOSU exercises achieve is a fairly fast and drastic improvement in performing that BOSU exercise.

If you're going to load your muscles, bones, and joints with resistance, do it in a way that encourages your brain to practice proper control through a full range of motion. When that gets easy, make the exercise more difficult (and beneficial) by gradually increasing the load. The far majority of athletes desperately need to improve their functional mobility (stability and range of motion) on solid ground.

Whether your primary goal is weight loss, conditioning, strength gain, or what-have-you, most of us will stand to benefit the most from plain GETTING STRONGER, something that the BOSU inhibits relative to training on the flats.

Single leg squat on a BOSU? Single arm plank for time? I promise that you can do almost any of those ridiculous looking BOSU moves and poses if you have good strength and you practice that move.

I will grant that balance training on the BOSU and other unstable surfaces is indeed beneficial in the context of physical rehabilitation. The BOSU is a decent tool for when your primary interest is sending proprioceptive input to the brain. Here are a few examples of appropriate use of the BOSU.

But please understand that there is a relatively narrow window here. Once you establish good control of these type of movements, you're far better off gradually increasing the speed and/or resistance of movement on flat ground.

[I'm not listing references here, but certainly let me know if you want to see evidence for some of these claims. For the most part, they all say that unstable surface balance training is modestly helpful for rehab after injury or surgery but offers very little benefit in the area of sport performance].


A one-size-fits-all parable for health care reform

Today's entry come courtesy of David Drinks at the Carlisle M.O.G.
What's a MOG? Well, you can check that out HERE.

The story has been told of a civilization that lived by a lovely river at the base of a waterfall. One day a stranger suddenly plummeted over the edge of the waterfall into the foaming water beneath.

The people were alarmed and sent their two best swimmers out to rescue the person. Although they succeeded, it was not long before another person washed over the falls. As the people staged another daring rescue, they decided to station a boat at the base of the waterfall.

As time passed, strangers continued to wash over the falls. Rescue efforts increased. Soon, a small building was erected which contained emergency supplies. Designated people were on call for rescues.

Despite their efforts, the number of strangers being washed over the falls continued to rise. A hospital was eventually built and rescue efforts became more sophisticated.

The people were perplexed, but continued to respond to the demands of the victims of the waterfall. An even larger hospital was set up, along with a fleet of professionally trained rescuers. At long last a true visionary posed the question.

“Why don’t we go upstream and see why these people are falling over the water fall?”

- - - - -
While there is wisdom in going upstream to resolve the source of a problem, our health care system remains largely focused on reactive care. In fact, the U.S. Federal Health Care dollar spends ninety-five cents to remediate problems and only five cents to prevent them from occurring. We're scratching our heads, staring at the base of the water fall, while the system is being overwhelmed.

There is no question that there is great value to many of the modern healthcare advances. However, the problem we face is one of proportion. Many choose to disregard their own health and well-being only to rely on medical professionals to “fix” them when something goes wrong. This approach is convenient for some, costly for all, and unsustainable.
Now, more than ever, there is need to shift to a new level of thinking. Our society must leave behind the idea that personal health can wait while we pursue everything else in life. Instead, there has to be a focus on a living well balanced, where no part is sacrificed at the expense of others.
Over the past several decades there has been major growth in the field of wellness. The widespread benefits of healthy lifestyle choices continue to be refined. Beyond merely recovery from illness, the goal is to help guide individuals further into a state of awareness, education, growth, and ultimately high level wellness.
The wellness trend is bound to continue. However, individual responsibility is essential. You and everyone else truly does stand to benefit (and save) when you shift your gaze to the top of the water fall!

It is refreshing to seriously consider exercise and nutrition as important for not only avoiding illness, but as part of a bigger well life vision.  More than preventing disease, these are essential components of a well life that fosters growth and all around wellness.

A well life is more than being saved from the waterfall. It's thriving above the cliff!