Task-specificity of balance training

Hum Mov Sci. 2015 Dec;44:22-31. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2015.08.012. Epub 2015 Aug 25.


Despite much research on balance training, it is still unclear whether balance training leads to highly task-specific adaptations or rather non-specific adaptations. Hence, in this study we examined whether balance training increased performance only in the balance task that was trained or also in non-trained tasks. Forty healthy participants (28 m 12 f, 25 ± 4 years, 177 ± 10 cm, 73 ± 14 kg) were assigned to one of two training groups (TGs) or a control group. Both TGs completed six sessions over 2 weeks, only the training device differed. Before and after the training, performance in the trained task as well as in additional untrained tasks was recorded. ANOVAs showed that each TG outperformed the other groups only in the task they had trained (e.g., task trained by TG1: +225% in TG1, only +41% and +30% in TG2 and control, group*time interaction, p<0.001; Untrained task 1: TG1 +48%, TG2 +48%, and control +30%, no significant interaction, p=0.72). In summary, 2 weeks of balance training resulted in highly task-specific effects, no transfer even to very similar tasks was observed. Therefore, we recommend identifying and training exactly those tasks that need improvement, and test the efficacy of training programs using specific tests instead of general tests with limited functional relevance.

Keywords: Motor learning; Postural control; Sensorimotor training; Skill; Transfer.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills*
  • Postural Balance*
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Transfer, Psychology*
  • Young Adult