It will only take 10 seconds or less…and it will give you almost instantaneous and invaluable info that you can bring to your next doctor’s appointment if you think you might have bad balance and are therefore possibly at risk for a fall because of weakened core muscles or any type of chronic pain.
Yes, we mean YOU: Take this simple 10-second balance assessment right now!
- Stand comfortably near a wall with your arms in any position you choose.
- Lift one foot an inch or two off the floor so that you are balancing on the other foot.
If you can’t hold this position for more than 10 seconds, you’re at risk for a fall!
This very basic test is just a modified sample of a multi-part balance test that many doctors or physical therapists would perform in a clinical setting as part of a full stability assessment. A longer, and therefore more in depth, set of questions can be viewed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Injury Prevention and Control website:
Just doing two simple parts at home, though, can be an important learning tool for you and a good way to bring up the subject with your health care team if you have any questions or concerns about how your health is affecting your strength or your balance.
Even if you are not concerned about the possibility of falls for yourself, it is reasonably likely that you have a friend or relative over the age of 65 who could be at risk. Falls, especially for those who are elderly, are a huge problem! Here are some sobering facts from the CDC:
- Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls.
- Of those adults that fall, less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.
- Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.
- In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.
Harvard Health Publications, a division of the Harvard School of Medicine reminds us: “One of the best things you can do for your health is strengthen your core muscles. These muscles go far beyond your abs — your core also includes your back, sides, pelvis, and butt. Working together, these muscles let you move freely and keep you steady on your feet. Good balance is critical because it can help you keep your independence by preventing debilitating falls.”
You should always talk with your doctor before beginning any physical routine. If you are cleared for light to moderate stretching and core strengthening exercises, we recommend these three online resources. All have reliable information and clear instructions that can help remind you of different activities, stretches and exercises.