Updated: Aug 17, 2020
The Functional Reach Test Assesses Balance
This test was developed to measure dynamic balance of adults by determining the max distance an individual can reach past arm’s length without losing balance or moving their feet.
For this test, a yardstick or a measuring tape is attached to the wall, parallel to the floor, at the height of the client’s acromion process.
The client stands with the lateral aspect of the shoulder parallel to the wall, makes a fist with the right hand, and raises the right arm with elbow extended until the fist is at the 0 mark on the yardstick or the measuring tape (cm side).
Once the fist is aligned with the 0 mark, place a piece of tape on the ground in front of the participant’s feet. Instruct the participant that their feet should remain behind this line.
The client is instructed to reach forward as far as possible without falling or taking a step, and the farthest distance reached along the stick is recorded.
Have the participant perform one practice trial.
Three trials are then administered and scores are averaged.
Scores on the functional reach test are used to classify an individual into the fall risk categories below:
Low Risk = >24.4 cm
Moderate Risk = 15.24 – 25.4 cm
High Risk = <15.24 cm
Very High Risk = unable to reach
American College of Sports Medicine. (2013).ACSM's guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.