BackApp 360 Balance Board Review
The Swedish designers behind the innovative BackApp Chair have expanded their collection to include the BackApp 360 Balance Board. This ergonomic accessory is fully adjustable and encourages movement in all directions - just take care not to unscrew the 'magic ball' too far!
Degree of tilting is adjustable - a great feature. Allows users to move in any direction. Comes with handles for easy carrying.
Not well-designed for use at maximum tilt. Not (in our opinion) as aesthetically pleasing as some other designs we've seen. A little on the small side.
The balance board is not a new concept in the world of health and fitness. A quick search on Amazon will reveal a multitude of offerings; from balance disks to balance pads and wobble boards and roller boards, these exercise tools cater to a wide spectrum of users and range in difficulty. At the least challenging end, balance boards are used in a rehabilitative capacity to treat ankle sprains and knee injuries, but can also be used to help TBI (traumatic brain injury) survivors. At the more extreme end, they are marketed as training tools for skateboarders, surfers and snowboarders, and require practice to master effectively. In recent years, these boards have begun their migration from the gym to the office, to be used in conjunction with standing desks to improve your posture and core stability, and help you bring more movement into your work day.
The requirements for a good fitness balance board versus one used with a standing desk are very different – so how successful have the creators of the BackApp 360 been in turning what many think of as a piece of gym equipment into an office accessory?
Most balance boards have a fixed degree of wobble, which means reviewers will invariably complain that their board is either too difficult to balance on or, more often, so easy that standing on it doesn't make much of a difference. The unique selling point of the BackApp 360 is its adjustability. To increase and decrease your degree of wobble, simply flip the BackApp over and tighten or loosen the red knob until you find a position that suits you. This feature makes the balance board very adaptable; within seconds users can change the feel of the board according to the type of work they're doing - more wobble while browsing the web and less while typing, for example.
The underside of the board also features a soft dampening ring for added comfort and shock absorption. There does exist, however, something of a design flaw in the functionality of this system - while users are able to unscrew the red knob until it falls clean off the board, we wouldn't recommend turning it to a position close to this point. After hopping on, you'll probably hear a loud noise as the knob skips a couple threads, particularly if you attempt to complete a 360 turn (which you will feel an uncontrollable urge to try). This is not only annoying but also seems like it might damage the board over time. We feel the BackApp creators could improve this feature by limiting how far the knob can unscrew – the board is simply not designed to work well when adjusted to its upper limit.
Another feature that sets this balance board apart from some of its competitors is its ability to tilt in any direction (see video below). Unlike the Steppie, which can only rock from side to side, the BackApp 360 allows the user to exercise more muscles and joints in the ankles, knees, and hips, and up towards the spine through constant movement any which way. This added capability means that the BackApp 360 trumps single-direction balance boards in terms of ergonomic advantage. After you've used this product once, you will almost certainly feel more restricted if you then switch to a Steppie.
One major drawback to the BackApp in comparison to the Steppie, however, is the size. The Steppie is 2.5 inches longer than the BackApp, allowing for a wider stance. Particularly if you're taller than average, you may want to take the relatively small size of the BackApp into consideration before buying. On that note, it is worth mentioning that the addition of a balance board to your workstation will necessitate raising your desktop a few inches. If your standing desk is already at the maximum height, a balance board may not work for that desk.
When using any balance board, you may find that standing for long periods becomes more comfortable because you are constantly shifting the weight to different parts of your body rather than staying fixed in any one position. Nevertheless, standing on a hard surface is going to exert more pressure than on a softer one, which is why we trialed the BackApp 360 with the iMovR portable anti-fatigue mat on top. We didn’t find the mat compromised the safety or restricted our ability to balance on the board in the same way as before, and was indeed more comfortable. So far we haven’t found any balance boards with an anti-fatigue mat built in so you might want to consider buying one separately to use alongside your board.
The one area where we feel the BackApp 360 really falls down is in aesthetics. Visually, the board is more suited to a gym than a modern office environment and comes in two rather dull colors – dark grey and light grey. If this were the only standing desk balance board you’ve ever seen, you would probably be pretty happy with its appearance, but if you were to look at other products on the market such as the indoboard or the Level by Fluidstance, you might be more interested in finding something with a little more flair. While Fluidstance’s beautifully designed, albeit expensive, bamboo and aluminum board is one of the few ergonomic accessories that can actually enhance your office décor, the BackApp 360 is more function over form. The name doesn’t add much to its appeal either.
The BackApp 360 is a great option for those looking for adjustability as well as 360-degree movement. There are plenty of cheaper fitness balances boards out there that could, in theory, be used in an office setting, but you can't guarantee the level of tilt will be right for your needs without trying them out beforehand. While the BackApp isn't much to look at and could benefit from a few alterations, its extra features and reasonable price make it a solid contender in the balance board arena.
The Back App is warranted against construction fault and broken parts for 2 years.
Back App ships by UPS Ground within two business days of order. Delivery time is between three and ten business days.