Simple Balance Tests You Can Do At Home

Balance tests let you know if you're doing enough to stay steady on your feet. To stay independant, go where you want and do what you love, you need good balance ...

Special Note: If you know you're having significant balance problems, DON'T do these tests at home. Instead see your physician and physical therapist for a complete evaluation of your balance issues.

Standing Balance Tests

There are two types of standing balance, static (standing still) and dynamic (moving). Have a friend help you with the timing. They will need a watch with a second hand or a stop watch. They also need to be able to support you if you feel unsteady.

If you feel afraid of doing any test, DON'T DO IT. Seek professional help in assessing your balance instead.

1. Standing Unsupported (Static Balance Test)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Stand still for 2 minutes without holding onto anything.


GOOD = Able to stand safely for 2 minutes without wavering.

NEEDS A LITTLE WORK = Able to stand unsupported for 2 minutes, but you felt unsteady.

FAIR = Able to stand unsupported for 30 seconds, but you felt unsteady.

POOR = Needed several tries before you could stand unsupported for 30 seconds.

VERY POOR = Unable to stand unsupported for 30 seconds.

Special Note: If you scored fair or worse on this test, DO Not do the rest of the tests on this page. Have balance testing done by your physician and physical therapist instead.

2. Standing Unsupported, Eyes Closed (Static Balance Test)


INSTRUCTIONS:

Close your eyes and stand still for 10 seconds without holding onto anything.

SCORE:

GOOD = Able to stand unsupported for 10 seconds safely.

NEEDS A LITTLE WORK = Able to stand unsupported for 10 seconds but you felt unsteady.

FAIR = Able to stand unsupported for 3 seconds.

POOR = Unable to keep eyes closed for 3 seconds because you felt unsafe, but you stayed standing unsupported once you opened your eyes.

VERY POOR = you felt like you were beginning to lose your balance and your friend had to steady you.

Special Note: If you scored fair or worse on this test, you can try the next balance tests but don't do them with your eyes closed.

3. Tandem Stand Unsupported (Static Test)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Stand placing one foot right in front of the other so that the heel of the front leg lightly touches the toes of the back leg.

SCORE:

GOOD = Able to do this and hold for 30 seconds.

If you were unable to do this, try placing the heel of the front leg ahead of the toes of your back leg by one foot length and out to the side, about hip's width away. Stand unsupported in this position for 30 seconds...

NEEDS A LITTLE WORK = Able to stand unsupported for 30 seconds in this modified position.

If you were unable to do this, try placing the heel of the front leg just a little in front of the toes of the back leg and a hip's width apart sideways. Stand unsupported in this postion for 30 seconds...

FAIR = Able to hold the second modified position for 30 seconds.

Special Note: If you are unable to do the last modified position begin a program of balance exercises and try the test again in a few months.

4. Standing On One Leg (Static Test)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Stand on one leg while lightly holding onto a stable surface (such as a counter). Gradually lighten your hand support until you completely let go. Stand on one leg as long as you can without holding onto anything. Try this with each leg.

SCORE:

GOOD = Able to lift one foot off the floor independently and hold for > 10 seconds wihtout any support.

NEEDS A LITTLE WORK = Able to lift one foot off the floor independently and hold for 5 to 10 seconds without any support.

FAIR = Able to lift one foot off the floor independently and hold for 3 to 4 seconds without any support.

POOR = Able to life one foot off the floor but could not hold.

VERY POOR = Unable to lift one foot off floor.

Special Note: If you scored less than good on this test, your chance of having a fall is greater than normal. Consider using an assistive device (cane or walker) to walk. See a physical therapist for an evaluation. Do exercises for balance to increase your score.

Remember, when we walk, each time we take a step, we are standing on one leg only. We need to be able to do this to continue to walk safely.

Functional Balance Tests

Strong legs let you move with confidence and continue doing the things you love. If you aren't as active as you use to be, you may have lost leg strength without realizing it. This puts you at greater risk for falls and becoming disabled as you age. Do these balance tests and find out how just how strong your legs are.

1. Sit To Stand (Dynamic Balance Test)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Begin by sitting in a chair. Stand up trying not to use your hands to help you.

SCORE:

GOOD = Able to stand without using your hands and you feel secure.

NEEDS A LITTLE WORK = Able to stand up by yourself but you had to use your hands to help you.

FAIR = Able to stand using your hands to help you, but it took several tries.

POOR = Unable to stand by yourself, but you could do it with a little help from your friend.

Special Note: If you scored anything less than good, you need to begin a strengthening program for you legs. If you scored fair or below, see a physical therapist and have her/him design a strengthening program to meet your needs.

2. Stand To Sit (Dynamic Balance Test)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Being in a standing postion, with a chair behind you. Sit down using your hands as little as possible.

SCORE:

GOOD = Able to sit with little or no use of your hands for help.

NEEDS A LITTLE WORK = Had to use your hands to control the speed at which you sat.

FAIR = Had to use your hands and have the backs of your legs against the chair to control the speed at which you sat.

POOR = Even when you used your hands to help and had the backs of your legs against the chair, you "plopped" into the chair.

Special Note: If you scored less than good on this test, you need to begin a program of strengthening exercises for your legs. If you scored poor or below, see a physical therapist.

3. Turning 360 Degrees (Dynamic Balance Testing)

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a standing position, step completely around in a full circle while your friend times you. Pause. Then step around in a full circle going the other direction. Your friend times this as well.

SCORE:

GOOD = You were able to turn a full circle safely in 4 seconds for
NEEDS A LITTLE WORK = You were able to turn a full circle safely in 4 seconds in one direction only.

FAIR = You were able to turn a full circle in either direction but it took you more than 4 seconds each way.

POOR = You took more than 4 seconds to turn a full circle both directions and felt a little unsteady. Your friend needed to stand very close, just in case.

VERY POOR = You didn't try as you felt unsafe attempting to turn.

Special Note: We turn to look at things or when someone calls out to us. To do this safely you need a score of good on this test. If you scored less than good, doing balance exercises and becoming more active can help improve your score.

Mindful Balance Tests

How easily do you pick things up from the floor? Can you get up from the floor easily or does the very thought fill you with dread? Are you comfortable reaching into cupboards or using a ladder or step stool?

Your body and mind send you signals when things are amiss. If the thought of doing these or other activites makes you uneasy, then your body is not functioning well. Listen to the signals.

Balance Testing - What To Do About Your Score

Did you pass with flying colors? Keep doing what you're doing it's working for you! Of course you can always try balance ball exercises or workout on a Bosu for a little variety.

Or did you discover...

  • Your balance needs a lttle work? - You may enjoy Yoga, Tai Chi or dancing, all of which help to maintain good balance.
  • Your balance is fair? - Begin doing some simple exercises for balance.
  • You scored poor or very poor? - See a physical therapist for help with your balance issues.

Maybe you realized weakness in your legs is throwing you off balance. Then a leg strengthening program is the place to start.

Beyond Balance Tests

Once you know your balance score, improving your balance can be done in as little as 10 minutes a day with these simple balance exercises.

To get a clear picture of your overall fitness level, be sure to test your flexibilty, strength, aerobic condition and posture as well.

No matter what your age or condition, you CAN improve your ability to move through life joyfully!


Click here to return to the Physical Fitness Tests page from this Balance tests page.

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