Balance can be defined as the ability to maintain equilibrium. Whilst external forces act upon the body, it is the role of muscular contractions (internal forces) to counteract their pressures. External forces can include factors such as friction, gravity and forces applied by moving objects. Equilibrium is dependent on the current activity of an individual. Static equilibrium refers to the ability to maintain balance during stationary activities. Dynamic equilibrium refers to the ability to maintain balance whilst the body is moving.
As forces act upon the body, the body will continually adjust by responding in an appropriate manner. When the body is stationary balance is easier to maintain. During dynamic activities maintaining equilibrium can be more of a challenge.
The ability to maintain equilibrium during physical activity can be made easier by increasing the base of support or lowering the centre of gravity. This can be demonstrated within a surfing context. To increase the base of support a surfer will separate their feet creating a wider stance that increases the base of support and bend at the knees, lowering their centre of gravity.
Equilibrium can be effected in three ways
Change in location
Change in the Environment
Change in the position of body parts
These changes may occur in isolation or a combination
Stork Balance Stand test
Aim: To test the balance of an individual whilst standing on the ball of one foot.
Procedure: Without shoes and on a flat surface, subjects are to stand on one foot and position the other foot on the inside of the knee they are standing on. Subjects will then be asked to raise their heel and timing will begin.
The time will stop if any of the following occur:
Hands are removed from the hips
You supporting foot swivels
The heel of the supporting foot touches the floor
Your non supporting foot loses contact with the knee
The time reaches 60 seconds
Flamingo Balance Test
The flamingo Balance test assesses the balance of the total body, looking at strength of the leg, pelvis and trunk.
A 50cm long, 5cm high and 3cm wide non slip beam is required to complete the test.
Procedure: Remove shoes. Stand on the beam length ways whist holding the instructors hand. Flex one knee so the foot is resting against your buttocks. Now standing on one leg the instructor will release their hand and timing will begin. The stopwatch will be paused every time the subject falls off the beam or their leg is released from their buttocks. The number of pauses in the 60 seconds is to be recorded. If the subject falls more than 15 times in the first 30 seconds, the test is to be terminated.