Corrective ExerciseOlder Populations

Assessing Balance With Middle and Older Populations

Any reputable fitness trainer that understands the importance of motor learning and proper arthrokinematic along our kinetic chain of movement, will understand that the importance of balance as the foundation to a strong and mobile human movement system.  In the National Academy of Sports Medicine Personal  Training program, it is the foundation that all fitness programs are built upon.  Whether it is competitive athletes or mom’s and dad’s, functional movement for everyday life requires stable joint forces to allow for optimal muscular output.  For the older population, the importance for balance training increases greatly as the concern for the prevention of falls, and the performing of everyday activities to provide an active daily lifestyle without the risk of injury.  

Balance is defined as our ability to maintain the body’s natural center of gravity during a static, or non-moving position; also referred to as Static Balance.  Dynamic balance also exists and describes our ability to maintain upright posture while moving and our center of gravity moves outside of our posture.  

Other methods of balance beyond the scope of this information, is reactive balance which is the ability to compensate and recover from being off-balanced, such as tripping or falling over.    Functional balance is the ability to maintain a center of gravity while moving our body through multiple planes of motion, such as picking up something off the floor and placing it on the counter or lifting a weight off the ground as in a deadlift.

Understanding and assessing balance is far more complex than a simple musculoskeletal function measured by how strong supporting muscles are to a given joint.  When we look at balance, we must consider multiple biomechanical, neurological, and sometimes environmental systems (Heyward, PhD, Gibson, Phd).  These proprioceptive system of monitoring the outside world through the capacity of the neurological components exceeds the limits of personal trainers, however, through a properly designed program, can improve a clients reactive force to external measures thus improving ones balance and functionality for everyday living.

Assessing Balance Through The Unipedal Stance Test

This simple test can be done with a partner to help assess ones balance.  Only a stop watch is required to complete this assessment.  

The Unipedal Stance Test is completed by having one stand on one foot (without shoes) and lifting the other foot above the ankle, and balance for as long as possible.  This is completed 3 times and averaging out the time one is able to balance.  This test is completed on the dominant foot (the foot one would kick with)

  1. Stand upright, no shoes are to be worn during this assessment
  2. Cross the arms across the chest
  3. Locate a central point on the wall to stare out during the assessment
  4. Lift the non-dominant foot just above the ankle 
  5. Begin the stop watch upon lifting of the ankle
  6. Completion of the assessment ends when the foot is moved away from its current position to maintain balance, the arms are uncrossed, or the person loses their balance.  If 60 seconds is reached, the assessment has ended.

Complete the same steps found in Assessment 1 while this time having the eyes closed.

Record each of the 3 times with the eyes open and the 3 times with the eyes closed.

To receive your score, complete the form below and your results will be emailed to you within 48-72 hours.

Submit your times to receive your results within 24-48 hours

  • Heyward, V. H. (2002). Advanced fitness assessment and exercise prescription. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

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