Postural & Joint Assessment

I don’t believe there’s a single person who couldn’t benefit from a 10 minute postural assessment. It’s amazing how often we look at ourselves in the mirror without noticing that one shoulder might be higher than the other. How many women have been sold the benefits of running shoes ‘specially designed to correct pronation’, when their feet are in fact supinated? I know I have – and at one of London’s supposedly top running shoe shops! Even more staggering, is the fact that most of us don’t realise that our postural deviancies arise as a result of the structure of our soft tissues, and can be corrected relatively easily without any need for surgery.

Our skeleton is designed to support our body and enable movement whilst minimising the effects of gravity. It does this perfectly well when everything is aligned as it should be. However, whilst we may start life with perfect posture this invariably does not continue: we slouch, drag our feet, put on weight and collect injuries. For a while we tend not to notice, but as we get older we begin to get aches and pains that we often can’t attribute to anything in particular. A postural deviation equals a bio-mechanical inefficiency: some muscles have to work harder, some lengthen whilst others shorten, joint mobility is restricted, and when you’re up against the ageing process anyway (as every one of us is, whether or not we care to admit it) it’s a problem you can do without.

It may also be hampering your efforts to keep fit or learn a new activity. Recently, I came across a client who was learning to ski Telemark (yes, I teach it as well), and we were struggling to identify why he kept falling over onto the same side. When I came to assess his posture it was clear that the muscular development of his legs was completely different. Assessment of his knee and hip joints revealed significantly reduced mobility on the weaker side. He’d had a knee injury 20 years previously. The injury itself had been fixed, but the limb had never been properly rehabilitated and his body’s strategy quite naturally was to favour the other leg. It wasn’t surprising his turns were rather uneven.

This type of issue is not particularly unusual and the same goes for any sport or activity: no matter what you or an instructor can do to improve your technique and overall fitness, your level of achievement will remain limited by postural deviations and the resulting imbalances and bio-mechanical inefficiencies…until you get to the bottom of the problem and can work to address it.