How Doctors Use The Wall Stand
The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

How Doctors Use The Wall Stand

A reader wrote in that he tried the "wall test" done by standing with your back against a wall. The wall test is a quick general assessment to see if you can comfortably stand up straight, and if not, where the tightness exists that prevents it. The reader said the test hurt. He was angry and wanted me to warn everyone not to do the wall test.

The point of the wall test is to see if you are generally standing upright, or have tightness preventing healthy stance, not to cause pain by forcing it. If you can't comfortably stand straight, it is likely that you are going about your day in a tight, crooked position that contributes to pain syndromes and gradual spine and disc damage. That is the point of doing the test - to determine the source of the problem right then. Then, see if it is just a bad habit of how you stand, if you don't know how to stand well, or if tightness prevents it. Specific functional stretches easily restore resting length to the area. Then you use the new ability to stand and move in healthy ways.

In the photo, Dr. Clara Hsu stands well while checking a patient. In the photo, the patient looks tight, both at the hip and the front of the shoulder. The patient seems to be straining to pull in her chin. She is lifting her ribs and overarching the lower back to try to get the upper body to the wall. These two compensatory moves are things to check for. Instead, pull neck and chin back loosely. Bring upper body upright by unroundng the upper back, not by leaning back, increasing the angle at the lower spine.

Dr. Clara Hsu was featured in a reader success story in How Doctors Help Patients With Fitness Fixer.

The wall test is a general test, not an exercise. It shows three things:

  1. How you are standing at the moment, and perhaps as general habit
  2. Where bad habit or tightness may be that prevents standing in healthy positioning, for example a forward head, bent or tight front hip where it meets the leg, or overarched lower back
  3. The wall test is done a second time as immediate feedback after doing specific retraining stretches, to see how well you have achieved the purpose of the stretches to restore normal length of these areas.

The wall test is a general, not absolute measure. The assessment works for most body types. Many people who think that larger lower body prevents upright stance, may actually be standing bent forward at the hip.

Straining to stand straight is not healthy straight standing. Making it possible to be healthy is the point. Causing more pain would be silly, and counter to the point. Often it is just a matter of identifying what is straight stance using the wall test, and standing better from then on. If the wall stand is uncomfortable, or not possible, check your standing habits. If there is tightness, then stretch the hip, shoulder or wherever else is holding you in tight bent position.

To stretch front chest and hip to make straight standing comfortable:

Posts to understand and fix compensatory movements:

Coming soon, Dr. Clara Hsu asked me to tell the story of, "Class is always in session."

Questions come in by the hundreds. I make posts from selected ones. See if your answers are already here by clicking links and archives. Read success stories of these methods and send your own.

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Photo by Dr. Clara Hsu
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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.