Static balance is where an individual has the ability to retain the center of their mass above their base of support in a stationary position. When it comes to static balance, we learn more when we look at an individual’s ability to balance through a decreased base of support. Base of support is considered the area beneath a person where contact is made with the ground. Asking for an individual to decrease their base of support can involve a number of different positions.
Such positions can include normal stance, feet close together, tandem stance and single leg balance. All balance can be progressed and worked on from these different positions as a way to improve stability. It is important that static balance is assessed before progressing to dynamic balance as there is less stability required due to the nature of the positions.
When looking at the above-mentioned positions there are key aspects to what makes a person’s balance more stable or gives an indication that an individual needs to work on improving balance. For each of these positions the below aspects are considered.
- When standing with feet as close together as possible, what is key is the stability through the lower limbs (primarily thr ankles), and the amount of postural sway that is present is minimal. Postural sway is the amount of movement of the center of gravity even when a person is standing still.
- Tandem stance. Standing with one foot directly positioned in front of the other. In this position is the individual able to tandem stand without the use of a support? Are they able to maintain this position without the use of support? Also, are there changes in stability when comparing the leading foot, is there any amount of lateral movement occurring at the ankles and again is there an increase or change to postural sway?
- Single leg stance. This is simply balancing on one leg. Is an individual able to achieve this position without the use of a support? Are they able to hold the position when using a small amount of support and can they hold the position if support is taken away? Are there changes in stability from the right to left sides? The amount of lateral movement occurring at the ankles, general lower limb joint alignment, any discomfort felt at the joints and again the amount or increase to postural sway that is present. This position can also be looked at with the eyes closed; taking away the visual feedback that assists when balancing.
There are many exercises that can improve and challenge our stability and improve our balance as a result. These are best prescribed by a qualified health professional like an Exercise Physiologist.
Our Energise group exercise program is an Exercise Physiologist-supervised exercise program that incorporates balance exercises into its programming, and we can easily individualise a safe, home-based balance exercise program for anyone in need of improving this aspect of their movement.