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Elysia Tsai Answers Your Questions

Elysia steps in the largest shipping box for the Commando balance board

You’ve got questions… We have answers.

Even if I have to mail myself to you!

See the common questions about balance boards from Si Boards customers. Topics include balance board sizes and combos, sports training tips and injury prevention and rehabilitation.  My detailed answers are listed below.

Please note, some answers aren’t grammatically correct, are written with my mind spinning with excitement and can be casual conversation.

And that’s what joining the Si Boarder community is about- detailed questions and answers to  ensure you feel confident in your Si Boards products.

Click here for common questions about Si Boards balance boards.

The three boards you are referring to are all very different.  It is based on the rail size. The larger rails fit taller riders, are more difficult to ride and are also the most adaptable. Depending on how you would like to train on a board- this can help in choosing a board.  Here’s a quick run down:
Powder- has a small rail, small riding surface for the balls, but has a larger standing space. Riders 5′ to 6′ are ok but better for those around 5’5″ because of the small rail. Riders choose this board for a narrow stance similar to snowboarding. This is easy on the legs and fast for quick turning.
Surf- has a medium rail, is the most popular sized board and is a great all around size. You will get leg fatigue but also fast turning. You have the ability to have a wider stance and more comfortable squat stance for riders 5’5″ and over 6′ tall.  This is also a great size for pop up training because it’s big enough to be on your belly. Perfect for short boarders working on speed and fast turns.
Commando-has a large rail and is the most difficult to ride due to the large rail space.  But for riders over 6′ this is the one they want.  For riders under 6′ it can be a wide stance which will tire your legs out quickly until you get used to it. Its a big board to control, heavy, sturdy, slower but very solid. Perfect for long boarders and big wave riders who need ultimate leg strength for big drops and to control a big board. This is the most versatile board for full body and upper body moves because of the big ride surface.

I checked out the wake boards- pretty cool looking. I read in one add that it was maple plywood- a great strong wood. The boards are probably pressed with the rocker- this also adds strength to the board.

Our Original boards with the steel railing are 9 ply birch plywood. Our starter boards are 11 ply birch plywood. We can get away with the 9 ply without any board flex because of the steel railing. We originally attached the creator kit to our 9 ply boards and it was ok for me. When we had heavier riders- 200 lbs/90 kg ride it, it flexed a lot. So we had to do the 11 ply for a board top for the creator kits.

I think if you weigh 160 lbs max the board would be ok. One thing you could do is put it on the floor on a baseball or something hard like that. It will flex a little more because it doesn’t have the rail attached to it. If you step on it and it flexes down to the ground- probably too much weight for the board to hold. If you are able to get up on it and it doesn’t flex too much- it might hold you. If the plywood is maple or birch- it won’t break in half but continually flex at the point over the ball. If you get up on the board and hear popping and cracking, it definitely wont hold you. I think if you put the Creator Kit on the wake board it will probably hold you, you will have to get used to the board flexing on you a little bit. If you stand close over the rail the board will also flex less. If you stand really far beyond the railing the board will flex quite a bit.

6 x 6 is pretty good if staying still, bigger is always better. If you are really rocking the Commando side by side you might need a little more space perhaps 7 x 7 at the minimum. I ride in my living room and my space is about 6 x 6 and that is usually enough unless I am walking the board around. We also use indoor/outdoor carpet and that keeps the ride pretty fast and gives you some traction to ride. Since you are in your garage on concrete, I would suggest a carpet or foam mat.

Jumping up from the Starter Kit with 3″ ball to say the Commando with a 6.5″ ball- totally huge. You have the fine tuned coordination and fast response of your current board. But you probably notice that you can’t get too much tilt because the board hits the ground. First, with the Commando, the board size, weight, and rail dimensions are much heavier and bigger in width and length. You need a much wider stance and your ability to stand over the ball with a wide stance- total leg strength and hip coordination. The weight of the board requires more leg strength to move the board and keep the momentum in check. With the added rail space you will notice more hip coordination because the ball is able to roll forward more.

With the 6.5″ ball, you are off the ground and you can easily carve turns. This will be a little bit of a neurological challenge at first to really tilt the board up and then carve- right now you are pretty level. The ball rolls slower but once you get your strength you’ll be able to really whip that board around.

With a larger stance you dramatically increase your endurance. I can ride the smaller boards all day long but jumping to a larger board, I tire a lot faster.

With the two boards, you’ll have a great understanding of balance in a wide and narrow stance, great for volleyball. I think the larger board is really going to hit the surfing and volleyball because of the wide stance. The narrow stance will target the snowboarding.

Also, with the larger board you can get some awesome upper body work in- full body without feeling cramped. Great for the shoulders and closed chain exercises so you practice properly if you dive for a volleyball or fall on your hand and hit the ground.

We have a lot of surfers who get two balls. They practice their pop-ups and footwoork. You could stand on the board with a band connected to you paddle and simulate the surfing with either one or two balls. I am all about function- take your sport and adapt it to a safe enviroment and train on a balance board. We do a lot of full body moves on the larger boards and ball- very challenging and very fun.

Having trained on the two boards you will find your fine tuned coordination now has to adapt to gross strength and large sweeping motions, the best of both worlds!

For snowboarding there are a couple of great things to do for the downhill effect. What we’ve done is placed a board on a stair step using the two half-balls. A half-ball on the ground and a half-ball a few steps up. I would just be careful of your snowboard flexing too much if you are standing in the middle and the ends are supported. I’ve done this with a wakeboard and our Ultimate Fitness and it was great. We used either a set of stairs or a small step stool- as long as it is stable.

The smaller half-balls are great to fine tune your balance where the larger ones really get good range of motion and strength.

You can use different sized half-balls also and play around with the tilt. Riding on two different sized balls is pretty challenging too. The top leg gets more strength because of the weight distribution, you just have to watch your foot stance and keep from sliding off the board.

Gross, hahah. I like to ride barefoot sometimes as well. The finish is water based. You can spray it down with anything as long as you wipe it off quickly and don’t let it sit on there for a while. I usually do a wet towel to get the majority of dirt off, then finish with some Simple Green, Windex or something like that. You could use a Lysol then wipe it off for the disinfectant. I would avoid something abrasive though. Just an easy sponge and some light wiping should do!

Ankle strength- that can be a broad question. When I think of building back and ankle from injury or doing injury prevention exercises there are a few key areas I address.

Physical strength to move the ankle through a range of motion against resistance-these would be band exercises. Wrap the band around the foot and move the foot and ankle through left and right, up and down, diagonal and alphabet patterns.

After you gain the strength from these exercises, you need to learn how to get those muscles to fire to maintain balance and good joint position. This is where weight bearing exercises comes in. Then I put the athlete on one foot on the flat ground and make them balance. I progress them with ball throws and trying to knock them over. Then I progress to jumps in all directions with a balance hold once they land- this is great for basketball players.

I also incorporate balance boards- trying to maintain balance on a moving surface helps initiate core control, posture, pelvic awareness and lower body strength. And when you look at the fine details of being able to balance on a board, a lot of it comes from the feet and ankles. When the board is moving around, I keep my upper body very stable and it’s my ankles and feet that are doing the fine tuning.

I will have the athlete move the board in all directions to incorporate concentric strength and movement coordination at the same time. And I will have the athlete stay steady and react to the board and activate eccentric strength. At times I put a weight on the edge of the board to gain more resistance and increase strength of the foot and ankle.

So the answer is two fold. The balance board will help coordinate and activate the strength in your lower body. But you must also build up strength doing some non weight bearing, jumping and resisted exercises. The balance board ties it all together and will help with overall sports performance because you have better reactions and core control. And since it all stems from your feet, you are strengthening your ankles and feet.

Now, in cases of somebody with a chronic unstable ankle, there is only so much we can do with specific tape, rehab, bracing and treatment. Sometimes when the ligaments are too far gone and rehab exercises are exhausted and you are really active, sometimes the ankle will still give out. The supporting ligaments just aren’t there, but balance training does help tremendously.

I’ve used our balance boards all soccer season with players and the non-contact ankle injuries were low or none. But when you have contact and somebody slams into your ankle, there isn’t much you can do. With basketball, I always saw injuries from the agility turning and tight rebound spaces where you land on somebodies foot. A balance board will help train for these situations. Especially when you are have youth athletes who are still growing and gaining strength- they just don’t know how to properly activate and control their bodies. The injury might still occur but the extent of it is lessened and recovery is faster.

A 6′ teenage player would do great on two board sizes. The Freestyle medium board will get you into a nice comfortable squat position but will have a tighter lunge stance. This is a great board for general training. If you think they are still growing, you might want to consider the Commando board. The larger size allows for a wider deep squat to simulate a defense stance, a comfortable lunge position to simulate running and agility moves, a comfortable push up for rebounding strength, and a greater surface area for changing your stances.

I would suggest a half ball to be able to do complex moves with basketball drills while on a wobble board. Go into a lunge position and practice dribbling skills. Get into a free throw stance and practice the motion. Stand on one foot with the hands in the air to simulate rebounding and landing. Riding on a board and ball combo will help with agility and being able to move side to side. It will also help train core stability and muscle activation when a defender is trying to block you or contact you.