Your ability to competently compete or participate in your preferred sports or athletic activities largely depends on your ability to adapt and react to the terrain upon which you traverse and the conditions you encounter. In order to reduce the likelihood of injuries and perform at your highest level, it’s absolutely vital that your feet are as fit as possible, so that they can help you successfully navigate any situation you might encounter and be the reliable foundation for your body that they are intended to be. This is where the BlackBoard Basic foot training platform comes into play, especially when you use it in combination with BlackBoard PerformanceBars—a BlackBoard extension kit that helps accelerate functional foot gains.
BlackBoard PerformanceBars Training Goals
BlackBoard PerformanceBars are designed to help you reach the next level in your sporting or athletic endeavors (or simply to make your activities of daily living easier to perform), and they do so by helping you develop better balance and foot and ankle stability. These tapered bars test and train your musculoskeletal system’s ability to adapt, with the ultimate goal of making you a more physically proficient athlete and human being. Some additional goals you can use these thoughtfully designed bars to achieve include the following:
Building important motor skills
Developing higher-quality footfalls
Improving reaction time and reflexes
Enhancing coordination and foot position sense
Improving speed and overall athletic performance
With a good understanding of what can be accomplished by using BlackBoard PerformanceBars in conjunction with your BlackBoard, it’s now time to dive into the specific exercises you can do to achieve these goals and advance the capabilities of your feet and lower extremities. All of the exercises that appear below have been conscientiously developed by the creators of the BlackBoard device, and they can be performed just about anywhere, thanks to the lightweight, minimalist design and great portability of the BlackBoard itself.
Seven Key Exercises for Long-Term Success
What appears below are the seven basic exercises that constitute the core BlackBoard PerformanceBars training routine. The manufacturer of the PerformanceBars recommends that you do these exercises 2-3 times per week for optimal results. The overall aim of these fun and challenging exercises is to train your feet to react faster, keep your body in better balance, and help prevent foot and ankle injuries. In addition to the videos depicting each of these exercises, you’ll find below some additional tips and pointers on how to perform them successfully. We suggest watching the videos (ideally, several times) before performing the exercises to ensure that you execute them as intended.
In terms of duration and reps, the manufacturer recommends the following for each of these exercises:
3-5 repetitions on each side
Every set of BlackBoard PerformanceBars comes with a detailed user’s manual that includes descriptions of and QR codes for all the exercises that appear below, as well as depictions of how to arrange the PerformanceBars for each individual exercise.
Note: Don’t worry if you can’t do the individual exercises for longer stretches of time in the beginning. After a few sessions, you’ll already notice progress and improvement in your balance.
For this exercise, place the long PerformanceBar beneath the FootBoard, right down the middle of it. The HeelBoard will sit firmly on the ground, thanks to the placement of the short PerformanceBars on both sides of it. Distribute your weight evenly between your forefoot and heel on the BlackBoard and try to keep your balance on one leg. Change legs after about 30 seconds. Be sure to concentrate on using your foot when making any corrections, not your arms.
Exercise 2: Balancing on the Heel
To practice balancing on your heel, place a short PerformanceBar beneath the HeelBoard, right down the middle of it. The FootBoard will sit firmly on the ground for this exercise, thanks to the crosswise placement of the other PerformanceBars underneath it. Distribute your weight evenly between your forefoot and heel on the BlackBoard and try to keep your balance on one leg. Change legs after about 30 seconds. As previously advised, concentrate on using your foot when making any corrections, not your arms.
Exercise 3: Whole Body Balancing (Having it All)
To challenge your whole body balance capabilities, place the long PerformanceBar under the FootBoard and one of the short PerformanceBars under the HeelBoard. These two PerformanceBars should be positioned right down the middle of the underside of both sections of your BlackBoard. Distribute your weight evenly between your forefoot and heel, and then stand with one foot on the BlackBoard while trying to keep your balance. This exercise is intended to be a challenge for your whole body. Use your arms, glutes, and legs to keep your balance.
Exercise 4: Stabilizing the Ball of the Pinky Toe
To help stabilize the ball of your pinky toe, place one of the short PerformanceBars beneath the outer edge of the HeelBoard and the long PerformanceBar under the FootBoard, slightly inward, under the second beam. Your foot should be positioned toward the front of the BlackBoard for this exercise. Rest all your weight on your noninvolved leg, which should be one step back. Now, using your hips, shift your weight forward onto your front foot and tilt the FootBoard from its neutral position to an outwardly tilted position. Be sure to smoothly transfer your weight from your heel to the ball of your pinky toe during the exercise.
Exercise 5: Stabilizing the Ball of the Big Toe
To help stabilize the ball of your big toe, place the short PerformanceBars beneath the HeelBoard, on the inner and outer edges. Place the long PerformanceBar under the FootBoard, slightly shifted toward the outside. Place your foot on the BlackBoard in a neutral position (i.e., with FootBoard and HeelBoard level with one another) and rest all your weight on your noninvolved leg, which should be one step back. Now, using your hips, shift your weight forward onto your front foot and tilt the FootBoard from its neutral position to an inwardly tilted position. Focus on distributing your weight from your midfoot to your toes, so that you can strike the ground powerfully through your big toe.
Exercise 6: Heel Pull (Foot & Calf Strengthening)
To help strengthen your foot and calf muscles, place the long PerformanceBar crosswise under the FootBoard (you can adjust the position of this PerformanceBar from the middle of the FootBoard out toward the front/end of the FootBoard, depending on how intense your workout is). Stand with your involved foot positioned toward the front of the BlackBoard, with your noninvolved foot one step back. You can use your hands on the wall (or on a chair positioned directly in front of you) for balance, if need be. Use your back leg as a swing to get your momentum going. Don’t forget to keep your knee slightly bent and under control during this exercise (i.e., don’t lock it out and then overstretch).
Exercise 7: Whole Body Control in a Step
To improve whole body muscular control, place one of the short PerformanceBars under the inside of the HeelBoard and the long PerformanceBar under the outside of the FootBoard. Position the foot that’s resting on the BlackBoard one step forward. Then, powerfully swing your back knee forward until it rests at a 90-degree angle with your torso. Freeze in this position and hold it for 2-3 seconds. During this exercise, make sure your arm swing is in sync with your legs, and that your toes are always pointing forward.
BlackBoard PerformanceBars: A Helpful Way to Improve Foot Fitness
BlackBoard PerformanceBars give you the opportunity to develop better balance, be quicker and more stable on all manner of terrain, and hasten the development of highly capable feet. The most significant benefit that comes from training with these smartly designed bars, however, is the competitive edge or advantage they confer, for athletic pursuits, of course, but also for excelling in your everyday physical activities. There is no scenario we can think of in which optimal foot function is a hindrance, and so it follows that training your feet to be as fit as possible will leave you in the best possible position to tackle the many physical challenges life presents you with. Join the growing community of functional foot fans who are using BlackBoard PerformanceBars to accomplish impressive feats!
Dr. Marty Hughes is a chiropractic physician, or DC. He received his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College (WSCC), now known as the University of Western States (UWS). Dr. Marty has always been interested in foot health, due to the connection between the feet and the spine. He has worked as a freelance writer for LiveStrong.com, for whom he contributed over 2,200 health-and-fitness articles. He is a co-founder of Natural Footgear and an ardent supporter of natural foot care approaches. Dr. Marty enjoys road cycling, trail running, hiking, canoeing, and cross-country skiing as well as exploring the mountains of Western North Carolina.
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