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Stork test of doom

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Tried standing on one leg for a while recently? Because of that science story about the link between poor balance and mortality? I wonder how many people have tried it? 😏 Quite a few million, I suspect.

And how many have been freaked out by failing? If you can’t stand on one leg for 10 seconds — three tries allowed — you’re “more likely to die in the next seven years.” Which sounds like something you’d get from a fortune teller, but it is in fact perfectly cromulent science.

It’s also not the first of these check-if-you’re-doomed functionality tests. Clare Wilsen for NewScientist:

“Previous research has found that similar tests can give clues about our health. For instance, higher death rates from heart disease in older people correlate with slow walking speed, in a test where they were asked to walk 6 metres as fast as possible. Overall death rates are also linked with people’s ability to stand up from sitting on the floor. Perhaps more surprisingly, risk of death also correlates with a poor grip strength, where someone is asked to squeeze a testing device as hard as they can, according to several studies.”

But this new stork test is probably the most clear and accessible of them, for whatever it’s worth. Most people don’t have a grip-strength-measuring gadget just hanging around.

P.S. This story was widely reported using stock photography of yoga poses that are more exaggerated than the actual test! You do not need to go “full stork,” and your arms do not need to be spread like wings. Indeed, the exaggerated pose is harder!

See also: Vulnerability to Chronic Pain.

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