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Buyer’s Guide to Balance Discs and Foam Pads

Balance equipment for senior exerciseIf you are considering working with a trainer to improve your balance (center of gravity) on unstable surfaces, then you may want to learn more about other tools: foam pads and discs. While there are other products that are very useful for balance training, pads and discs are usually appropriate for people who are returning to exercise after an incident, surgery or just beginning to train in order to improve their performance.

Foam Pads

Foam pads, also called balance pads, come in various shapes, sizes and densities. Surfaces tend to be smooth, although some manufacturers add texture for more tactile feedback (response) or ridges to help prevent slipping. Surfaces are probably more noticeable if you wear socks rather than shoes when standing on the pad. The pad can also be soft and pliable, which can give a sensation of firmness. Foam pads and discs can be placed on a chair for people who are seated or placed on the floor for standing exercises.

The material of the foam pad can vary from rubber to plastic. If you are allergic to latex, look for brands that are latex-free.

Prices range from $40 to $100, depending on size

Balance Discs

This equipment is usually round and flat in shape and inflated with air. When weight is applied when sitting or standing, the air shifts within the disc, creating a feeling of instability. If the disc is firmer, it will feel more stable by reducing the level of air.
Many brands need a ball pump with a needle (similar to a pump for a basketball) to adjust for the desired firmness. Some manufacturers include the pump with the balance disc, some may need to be purchased separately.

Discs are made from a variety of rubber (latex) or plastic materials. Again, if you have an allergy, this needs to be considered before you make your purchase.

Surfaces on the balance discs vary. Some surfaces are smooth, some are pebble-like, while others have more prominent nubs or ridges. The surfaces are intended to provide varying levels of feedback (response). The shape of the balance discs is usually round but can be oval.

Prices range from $25 to $60, depending on size

As we age, balance can become more of concern, the fear of falling is a real apprehension. We can help diminish those fears with proper training. At Lori Michiel Fitness, we incorporate balance into all of our training programs. We focus on balance for seniors, post-rehab clients and those with Parkinson’s disease or other neurological and muscular challenges. For more information regarding advanced training options and equipment, contact us today!

Resource: International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)

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