At the conclusion of this chapter, the student should be able
- 1. Identify and describe the skeletomuscular and neuromuscular
antigravity mechanisms involved in the volitional standing position.
- 2. Summarize the similarities and differences that occur in
the relation of the line of gravity to various body landmarks with
good and poor anteroposterior segmental alignment.
- 3. Discuss the factors that affect the stability and energy
cost of the erect posture.
- 4. Explain the effects that the variables of age, body build,
strength, and flexibility have on the alignment of body segments
in the standing posture.
- 5. Name the values, if any, of good posture.
- 6. Perform kinesiological analyses on the posture of individuals
of different ages and body builds.
There are innumerable concepts of human posture and innumerable
interpretations of its significance. Posture may well claim to be “all
things to all people.” To the physical anthropologist, posture
may be an indication of phylogenetic development; to the orthopedic
surgeon, it may be an indication of the soundness of the skeletal
framework and muscular system; to an artist, it may be an expression
of the personality and the emotions; to the actor, it serves as
a tool for expressing mood or character; to the physician, biologist,
fashion model, employer, sculptor, dancer, therapist, psychologist—to
each of these—posture has a different significance. Each
sees posture within the framework of his or her own profession and
interest. This is no less true of kinesiologically oriented therapists
and educators. To them, posture is a gauge of mechanical efficiency, kinesthetic
sense, muscle balance, and neuromuscular coordination.
For all practical purposes no individual’s posture can
be described completely. Posture means position, and a multisegmented
organism such as the human body cannot be said to have a single posture.
It assumes many postures and seldom holds any of them for an appreciable
time. Although characteristic patterns become apparent as we observe
an individual over an extended period, it is difficult, if not impossible,
to measure, or even record, these patterns. It would take a comprehensive
series of pictures of an individual’s varied stance and
movement patterns to provide an adequate sample. Perhaps this is
the reason that most posture research has been related to the volitional
Another difficulty in analyzing and evaluating human posture
is the varieties of human physique represented, such as those defined
many years ago by Sheldon et al. (1940). The importance of considering
these individual differences of build when evaluating posture was
reported by Althoff et al. (1988). Each of us has had the experience
of recognizing a friend from the back. It was probably, in part,
that individual’s habitual posture that gave the clue for
In view of the fact that dynamic postures should be of greater
concern than static postures to those who specialize in human movement,
it may be well to say a word in ...