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At the conclusion of this chapter, the student should be able to:

  • 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 standing position.

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 visual identification.

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 ...

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