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What is a Posture Assessment?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2016
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A posture assessment is a series of tests or tasks designed to show a professional whether a patient's posture is distorted, often resulting in pain or discomfort in day-to-day activities. Physical therapists, trainers, doctors, and other health professionals are often qualified to conduct a posture assessment and give recommendations for correcting poor posture that may be causing issues throughout the body. Athletes often submit to a posture assessment to ensure their bodies are working in the most efficient ways possible; if athletes experience frequent or chronic pain while running or otherwise moving, an assessment of his or her posture may reveal the causes of that pain.

A person conducting a posture assessment may ask a patient to stand up normally, then assess problem areas. From there, the patient may be asked to do a number of stretches to demonstrate flexibility and normal motion. If problem areas exist, the person conducting the posture assessment will make a note, then have the patient conduct several strength exercises meant to reveal weak areas of the body. A plan can be developed from there to address problem areas and develop strength in areas that are causing pain or lacking support.

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A gait analysis may or may not be part of a posture assessment. The person conducting the assessment will be the judge of whether it is necessary or not. A gait analysis is meant to determine if a person's normal walking or running pattern is efficient or if it is causing pain or misalignment throughout the body. Runners often submit to gait analysis to ensure their running gaits will not cause pain during long running events. Such an analysis may focus on joint movement as well as foot pronation, which occurs when the feet tend to point either inward or outward rather than straight forward as they should.

Posture correction processes that are developed after a posture assessment may include strength training exercises, particularly focusing on the core muscles that support the spine. The stomach muscles, lower back muscles, groin muscles, and hips will more than likely be the focus of such a workout, and flexibility will also be stressed. Tight muscles can pull on tendons and bones throughout the body, misaligning them and causing poor posture and pain throughout the body. Weaker muscles are more likely to tire quickly, which means they are more likely to tighten up and cause alignment issues. Corrective posture braces or ergonomic furniture may also be recommended for helping correct poor posture.

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