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6 Reactionary Balance Exercises to Help Prepare for Unexpected Obstacles of Life

A common characteristic among falls is the presence of the unexpected. In a recent Balance Pros survey on falls, examples of unexpected fall factors included obstacles in path, sudden increases in walking speed, missed bottom steps, wet floors, unstable footings, icy surfaces, nudges/bumps, and other distractions, to name a few. 

Given the ultimate goal of balance rehabilitation is to prevent falls, it stands to reason that exercises must included unexpected balance challenges. Reactionary balance exercises require individuals to react to external stimuli or cues (numbers, colors, perturbations, etc.). To elicit reactions, the challenges are presented in unexpected, rapid, and/or random manners. 

Below are 5 examples of reactionary balance exercises that can be added to your balance training treatments to help better prepare your patients for the unexpected obstacles of life.

1. Random Reaching/Stepping with Cones and Colors

2. Pulley Perturbations

3. Randomized Stepping with Balance Dots and Colors

4. Force-Release Perturbations

5. Randomized Gait 

 6. Rocky Road

 About the Author: Shane Haas is a Physical Therapist with 20+ years of experience in the area of balance rehabilitation. He currently serves as Director of Rehabilitation at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital in New Braunfels, TX. He is also President and co-founder of ADL 365 Inc. (, a company that invents, tests, and makes exercise products by therapists for therapists. Shane can be reached at