Principles of Structural Alignment
Or What is "good" posture?

 

The word posture conjures up many thoughts.  Mom and Dad "saying stand up straight" or a picture of yourself hunched over a desk and computer attached to the phone.  The word posture as per webster is (1) the position or carriage of the body in standing or sitting; bearing (2) an attitude of mind; frame of mind (3) the habitual or assumed disposition of the parts of the body in a standing, sitting, etc.  What relationship does physical posture have on our overall health?

Developing how we see the body is one of the first steps in assessing posture. A comprehensive view of the body and how it moves as a result of the posture is needed to evaluate the body.  Here are some key point to tune into when looking at posture.

Front View

  1. Look at the feet. Are the arches falling?  Are the toes clenched? Is the weight on the outside, inside of the feet or balanced over the ankles? Does each foot look the same or are they different? Are the feet pointed in or out?
  2. Are the ankles falling in?  Is one ankle falling in?
  3. The knees.  Do the knees point in the same direction? Does one point out or in more? Are they directly under the hips or closer together than the hips?
  4. When the person is standing with feet hip width apart and asked to bring the knees forward as if they were going to sit, do the knees remain in the same plane or do they move outward or inward?
  5. The hips.  Is one hip bone higher than the other?  Is one hip bone farther forward than the other or farther back?
  6. Waistline. Is the waistline straight or is one side higher than the other? Is the navel off to one side or on the midline?
  7. Shoulders.  Is one shoulder higher than the other? Is one side more forward than the other?
  8. Arms.  Do the arms hang evenly?  Are the height of the hands even or does one lie higher on the side of the body? How far away from the body do they hang? Is one farther away from the trunk than the other?
  9. Neck/head.  Does the head tilt to one side or the other? Does the neck go one way and the head the other way?
  10. Can you draw a straight line from the top of the head through the nose, chin, navel to the mid point between the feet?
  11. If you have the person roll slowly forward to touch their toes (letting their hands hang) does the length of their hands vary as they roll down?
  12. After having the person march in place, where do their feet fall naturally?
Side View
  1. How does the weight look on the feet?  Does it look like the person is going to spring off a diving board or fall over backwards?
  2. Are the knees locked? Straight? Slightly bent?
  3. Are the hips forward over the feet or behind the feet? If the pelvis were a bowl would the contents spill out the front or back or remain in the bowl?
  4. Does the low back sway forward or is it straight as a board?
  5. Is the upper back rounded forward or are the shoulder blades pulled back?
  6. Is the head forward or right over the shoulders?


Back View

  1. Are the achilles tendons straight or curved inward or outward? Are the heels closer together and toes pointed out more?  How do the arches look? Are they high or falling?
  2. Are the calf muscles equally developed?
  3. Are the knees locked or slightly bent?
  4. Are the iliac crests even or is one higher than the other?
  5. How does the tissue on the back look?  Is there more draping on one side than the other? Do the scapulas stick out or are they close to the back?
  6. Do the arms hang closely to the sides?  In which direction do the elbows point?
  7. Are the shoulders even or is one higher than the other?
  8. Is the head on straight or off to one side or the other?
The ideal alignment is to have the feet directly under the hips and knees and have the torso, shoulders and neck balanced over the hips with minimal muscular activity going on to hold this upright position. The knees should be straight ahead. The feet should not be turned out.  The weight should be balanced over the feet evenly not with more weight on the heels or balls of the feet. From the side you should be able to draw a straight line through the ear, shoulder, hip, ankle perpendicular to the floor.

Misalignment and imbalance leads to more stress in certain areas of the body, just as in a case of tires on a car that are not balanced.  The areas involved will wear out faster especially under stress or trauma.

How do we get misaligned or imbalanced?  Muscular tightness, having a dominant side, moving in habitual patterns, emotional stress and trauma, birth, being in the womb, repetitive activities, lack of or decreasing awareness - you name it -it is all a part of who we are physically.

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