From the day I stepped on those yellow footprints on Parris Island, standing tall and upright became more than just an option, it was a way of life.
I can remember every word the drill instructor yelled… (and then there was the position of attention)
1) Feet spread at 45 degree angle, heels in line and touching.
2) Legs straight but not stiff at the knees.
3) Hips level and drawn back slightly, body held erect , shoulders square and falling evening,
4) Arms hanging down by side without stiffness, thumbs along trouser seams and or side of skirt, back of hands out, fingers held naturally, and…
5) Weight distributed evenly on heels and balls of feet.
And of course much more in order to ensure we were disciplined…
For ten years I stood at the Position of Attention many of times, forcing an upright position that signaled I carried myself with pride.
But, as I studied for my certifications and expanded my knowledge of posture through Kendall and many others, I realized that that the military position is anything but good for the body. Through a series of static posture tests, and a functional movement screen, I found I did not have the best posture after all.
Today, as the modern man continues to become more sedentary by force of habit, the human body adapts to repetitive motions that relate to postural faults.
Take a look at the diagram below….
Perfect example of a cultural environment affects our posture.
So I ask you , where do you stand, and want you to think about what you do each day, that could force a postural fault?
Since I started my internship at Cressey Performance, I am learning a lot about how the body reacts to daily habits, and as I start to read more, I have found that there are four types of commonly known postural types.
The first commonly seen posture is known as the Kyphotic- Lordotic Posture
Cervical Spine : Hyperextended
Scapulae : Abducted
Thoracic Spine : Increased Flexion
Lumbar Spine : Hyperextended
Pelvis : Anterior Tilt
Hip Joints : Flexed
Knee : Slightly hyperxtended
Ankle : Slight Plantar Flexion
Elongated and Weak Neck flexors, upper back
Erector spinae, external oblique, hamstrings slightly elongated but not necessary week
Short and Strong : Neck extensors and hip flexors, lower back is strong but may not be short.
Before you go all deer in a headlights on me, let me explain what this could mean.
Basically, as a consequence of our daily activities , improper exercise programs and frequently assumed patterns, the muscles in our body tend to shorten and lengthen in other areas.
There are tons of things you can do to help correct these faulty patterns (which will be in another article I write later on down the road.)
Our next postural alignment that we are going to look at is the flat back posture.
Head : Forward
Cervical Spine : Slightly extended
Thoracic Spine : Increased flexion
Lumbar Spine : Straight
Pelvis : Posterior Tilted
Hips : Extended
Knee : Extended
Ankle Joints : Slight Plantar Flexion
Short and Strong: Hamstrings and abdominals to a certain degree.
Elongated and Weak : Hip Flexors
The idea of a flat back is essentially the opposite of a lordotic posture, as the pelvis is tilted posteriorly giving the appearance of a flat back and a reduced lumbar curve.
Next among the four commonly known types is the sway back posture.
Cervical Spine : Slightly extended
Thoracic Spine : Increased flexion (kyphotic)
Lumbar Spine : Flexion ( Flattened)
Pelvis : Posterior Tilt
Hips : Hyperextended
Ankle : Neutral
Short and Strong : Hamstrings, internal oblique
The last posture I’d like to address is known as the military posture, and the one I have along with many of the men I have served with.
Neck : Slightly Forward
Scapulae : Forward
Thoracic Spine : Neutral or slightly flat
Lumbar Spine : Hyper extended
Pelvis : Anteriorly titled
Knees : Slightly Hyperextended
Ankles : Turned out
This posture is caused from the excessive amounts of standing attention during a military career.
I hope you enjoyed the article, and this helped identify a postural fault that you may have, if not the least have you an idea of how we stand and some of the common postures you may see with people around you.
In the next article, I plan on showing you some exercises that could help with certain postural faults so be sure to look out for the next article If you want to learn more about how you stand.
Cressey, E. Hartman, B., Robertson, M. (2009) Asses and Correct.
Kendall, F., McCreary, E. , Provance, P., Rodgers, M., Romani, W. (2005) Muscles, Testing and Function With Posture and Pain. 5th ed.