Let’s consider the definition of posture and the basic concepts associated with this term. So, “What is posture?”
In the most general sense, posture is the habitual upright posture or the habitual relaxed upright posture of the human body, maintained at rest and during movement. Let’s pay attention to the wording “the usual position of the body.” It is the usual. A person is able to take any posture by an effort of will or under the influence of external circumstances. However, posture is the position of the body that is regulated unconsciously, at the level of unconditioned reflexes, by the so-called motor stereotype. Each person has only one habitual posture inherent in him.
The word “posture” comes from the word “ASANA”, which in translation from Sanskrit (one of the branches of the Russian language, which has common roots with the language of the ancient Indo-European peoples) means a certain posture, body position (the technique of asanas is described in special gymnastics – an integral part of the ancient philosophical yoga teachings – hatha yoga). Hatha yoga is based on a system of physical exercises consisting of elements – asanas. Each asana is a special gymnastic exercise, which, if performed correctly, has a harmonious training effect on the musculoskeletal system and internal organs.
Specialists in the field of aesthetics, physiology, biomechanics, and clinical medicine give different definitions to the term “posture”.
So, according to S.I. Ozhegov’s definition, posture is appearance, demeanor (about the position of the body, the shape of the figure). IN AND. Dahl defined good posture as “a combination of harmony, dignity, beauty” and quoted the proverb: “Without posture – horse – cow.” English dictionaries translate the term “posture” as “carriage, bearing” (this should rather be translated as bearing, posture), but still more often use the scientific term “posture”.
From a scientific point of view, posture is a more capacious and more specific concept. It is a physical characteristic of a person that is seen as a direct reflection of health and physical development. Posture is the habitual position of the vertically located human body, due to the motor stereotype, skeletal balance and muscle balance.
Posture is determined by the constitution of a person, his genotype, i.e. it is an innate human property. However, posture is capable of improvement in the process of individual development of a person.
Education and posture correction is considered in the practice of various types of gymnastics, for thousands of years it has been taught in theatrical art and military affairs. Education and posture correction is one of the main tasks of physical education. The principles of posture correction are the basis of modern health-improving gymnastics. The elimination of posture defects in order to achieve a therapeutic effect underlies such a direction of physical culture as physiotherapy exercises.
Posture is considered as a way of aligning conventionally identified body segments relative to each other: head, neck, thoracic segment, torso, pelvis, lower limbs and foot (Fig. 3). The body segments are aligned in relation to the rigid body structure – the skeleton, and this alignment is called skeletal balance.
The figure shows individual body segments and how they could form a single stable kinematic chain, for example, in two options A and B. In option A, the thoracic segment is tilted backward and the pelvis is forward. Accordingly, the other segments took the appropriate position for the overall stability of the body. Theoretically, there can be a great variety of such options, however, posture is regulated by a typical mechanism – a motor stereotype in accordance with the laws of gravity, in life we see 5-6 types of body alignment or 5-6 types of posture.
Following the law of expediency, the body segments are aligned in such a way as to minimize the tension of the tendons and muscles while keeping the body upright, while maintaining maximum body stability.
The body segments are located relative to the gravity line passing through the center of gravity Fig. 4 For stability, the joints connecting the body segments tend to assume a closed position, i.e. the position in which the articular surfaces are maximally congruent, i.e. match each other as much as possible. In this position, the maximum stability of the joint is ensured, which does not require additional muscle tension. For example, for the knee, the snapping position is full extension, provided the joint is positioned behind the line of gravity.
Basic posture tasks
The main task of posture is to protect the musculoskeletal system from overload and injury due to the rational alignment of body segments and muscle balance. With correct posture, any external influence will not lead to injury to the musculoskeletal system, but will only change its kinematic scheme, while maintaining stability as a whole.
Posture is also a utilitarian task. With the correct alignment of body segments, performing simple and complex movements does not cause any particular problems, since at the same time, the range of motion of all joints is maximum. This determines the maximum efficiency of body movement. Take a look at the picture. With good posture, the head remains unstable. In this position, full range of motion in the joints of the neck is possible. With a stooped posture, the head seems to be pushed forward and the turn of the head is sharply limited. An attempt at a forced turn involves rolling it back and can lead to neck injury.
Posture cannot be considered only a somatic indicator. It is also an indicator of the mental characteristics of a person. The influence of posture on the formation of a person’s personality has been scientifically proven. A person with good posture is more confident in himself, he more attracts the attention of others. Good posture is usually associated with good morality.
Look at the drawing, compare the posture of our contemporaries and the majestic posture of Catherine II. You will see a person’s character, and his social status, and, possibly, his professional affiliation.
There are five most significant aspects of posture. Consider posture from various angles:
Posture is a product of human evolution. Posture as an indicator of physical development. Posture – as a subject of study in various sciences Posture – as an indicator of physical health Posture – as an indicator of mental health
Consider the aspect – posture is a product of human evolution. Posture and problems associated with posture appeared in connection with the evolutionary process – upright posture, which was formed about 2 million years ago. The eminent Canadian physiologist Basmajan described the significance of this process as follows: “Among mammals, humans, having once acquired an upright posture, possesses the most economical anti-gravity mechanisms. The expenditure of muscle energy in this seemingly least comfortable position is extremely economical. “
In the process of human evolution, signs of bipedal locomotion gradually formed: a balanced head position, an S-shaped spine, an arched foot, a wide pelvis, a wide and flat chest, massive bones of the lower extremities, orientation of the shoulder blades in the frontal plane. The S-shaped spine is a kind of shock absorber under axial loads.
Allocate forward bend in the cervical region – cervical lordosis, backward bend in the thoracic region – thoracic kyphosis, forward bend in the lumbar region – lumbar lordosis. Due to natural bends, the strength of the spine to axial load increases. Under sudden and excessive loads, the spine “folds” into an S-shape, protecting the discs and ligaments of the spine from injury, and then straightens out like a spring.
The erect skeleton allows a person to walk, unlike other animals, on two legs, transferring weight from the heel to the forefoot, which turns each step into a balancing exercise.
The load is transmitted through the tibia. The fulcrum (b) falls on the toe. Effort (a) is created by the Achilles tendon, which, when the calf muscles contract, raises the heel. The arches of the foot “dampen” inertial loads upon landing, which reach up to 200% of body weight.
A natural, balanced head position allows the long axis of the orbits to face forward. This is a distinctive feature of a person from his anthropoid counterparts, in which the head is suspended from the occipital muscles (anthropologists determine the position of the head by the structure of the base of the skull and cervical vertebrae). The balanced position of the head eliminates the stretching of the posterior ligaments of the neck and the need for constant tension of the neck muscles, mainly, in contrast to animals, the muscles of the upper trapezium.
In the process of historical development, humanity has passed a difficult path. With the development of civilization, the requirements for the musculoskeletal system changed. If the ancient people were either in an upright or horizontal position (they hunted, collected, fought, lay, resting), then already in the 17th century, 10% of the population performed sedentary work.
In the 21st century, the number of such workers has increased to 90%. In the process of evolution, a person ceased to adapt to the environment and began to adapt the environment to himself, and this could not but affect his posture. The invention of a bench, a chair (this is probably the 15th century) significantly changed human biomechanics, a new problem appeared – “the posture of a person sitting on a chair.” Modern man spends most of his time sitting at work, at home, in transport, working, studying, resting, waiting, eating.
The sitting posture, which is optimal for office work and learning, is a difficult test for the musculoskeletal system. It is in this position that posture suffers most often. It is a long sitting posture that causes back pain and various diseases.
The 18th century is the century of mass schooling. This progressive historical process also has a downside. According to the Russian Institute of Pediatric Orthopedics, 40-80% of children have postural disorders, and 3-10% of them have various curvature of the spine, the so-called school scoliosis. With the development of civilization, the content, organization and methods of human labor change.
Office workers are a new mass profession, accounting for more than 60% of the total working population. The need for long-term adherence to a sedentary working position (working at a computer, with documents, with clients) leads to an increase in the number of diseases of the musculoskeletal system of the adult population. The number of such diseases is growing steadily, they are getting younger, and this trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Thus, posture is a property inherent only in humans, a product of the evolutionary process – upright walking.
The main historical milestones in the evolution of posture are: upright posture (2 million years ago); the invention of the chair (15th century); mass schooling (XIX century); the emergence of a new mass profession – office worker (XXI century).
Posture is an important indicator of a person’s physical development. From birth to old age, a person goes through certain stages of development. The forms and proportions of the body change, the nervous system changes and, together with it, complexes of unconditioned and conditioned reflexes are formed, fixed and fade away. All this, one way or another, is reflected in the posture.
Changing posture in the process of individual development of a person is an important aspect of a person’s physical development. The process of posture formation begins from the age of 6 to 8 years and continues until the age of 17 to 21 years, as the nervous system matures and a stable motor stereotype is formed. During this period, the bends of the spine, the arches of the foot are finally formed, the lower limbs are leveled.
Take a look at the picture. Young children do not yet have posture as such, there are no physiological bends of the spine, and the vertical posture is unstable. In the process of the child’s growth, a motor stereotype is formed, and the first elements of segmental alignment appear at the primary school age.
However, in children 6 – 9 years old, posture is unstable, we see excessive deflection of the lumbar spine, protruding belly, protruding shoulder blades – this is the norm for 6 to 9 year old children.
A stable posture is formed in middle and high school age. The final formation of posture occurs with the cessation of skeletal growth.
The age of 8 – 17 years is the most important period of life for the formation of posture, even the slightest deviation in the development of posture can lead to severe deformities of the spine and limbs,
it is during this period that future diseases of the spine and joints are “laid down”. At the same age, posture education is most effective.
With age, the ligaments become more rigid, the muscles are less elastic, the joints lose their mobility. By old age, the mechanism of posture control also worsens – a motor stereotype, due to the degradation of the nervous system. As a result, the ability of body segments to align is limited, posture deteriorates, and the ability to correct posture is reduced.
In old and senile age, the structure of the bone is disrupted – there is a problem of osteoporosis and, associated with this process, deformation of the skeleton (primarily of the spine). Age-related changes in the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system lead to poor posture, but poor posture, in turn, contributes to the deformation of the skeleton.
Thus, posture is an important indicator of a person’s physical development. A person in his development goes through the following stages:
Preschool age – lack of posture as such Younger school age – unstable posture Middle and senior school age – the period of active formation of posture Adolescence – final formation of posture Adult consolidation of acquired posture Elderly and old age – degradation of posture.
Posture from the position of various sciences, the subject of which is a person. Posture is studied by many sciences, such as physiology, biomechanics, medicine, physical education, military science, and even psychology. Consider how these sciences study posture.
Posture from the position of biomechanics. First of all, posture is an integral part of human biomechanics: Biomechanics considers posture as a combination of the positions of all joints and body segments at a given moment in time.
“Posture is a frozen movement.” From the point of view of biomechanics, posture is determined by skeletal balance, and is characterized by the distribution of the centers of gravity of individual body segments. Posture is the expression and scale of the struggle between gravity and upright posture. Posture is a combination of positions of all joints of the body at a given moment in time. Posture is a combination of the positions of all joints of the body at a given moment, and static body alignment is best described in terms of the positions of various joints and body parts. (Kendall, 1993). Posture is considered as an integral part of body mechanics (biomechanics): posture is a position determined by the relationship of body segments, and body mechanics is a posture in motion.
From the point of view of the science of physiology, posture is considered as a motor stereotype (i.e., a complex of unconditioned and conditioned reflexes), which is inherited and improved during the course of individual development and education.
The posture of healthy people, despite a number of individual characteristics, has a typical and stable biomechanical and innervation structure and is determined by a motor stereotype, a variant of skeletal development, muscle type and a feature of higher nervous activity, including the character of a person. All of them are genotypically determined.
More often than not, however, poor posture is the result of a bad habit or illness.
Medicine considers posture as an indicator of physical health. According to the figurative definition of the famous orthopedist Schede, posture is an expression and scale of the struggle between gravity and straight body position.
Posture – features with which a person actively holds the torso in an upright position. Features of posture are associated, on the one hand, with constitutional conditions, on the other, with the active activity of muscles under the control of the mental state of the subject. Thus, a person’s posture cannot be considered a purely somatic indicator. To a certain extent, it is also an indicator of a person’s mental characteristics.
Each adult has a certain posture peculiar only to him, characteristic for him, like, for example, the shape of the face, eye color, etc. Posture assessment is an important part of the patient’s study (V.O. Marks, 1978 – orthopedic surgeon).
There are many problems associated with poor posture, from childhood to old age. This is scoliotic disease of school-age children, and kyphoscoliosis of adolescents, and osteochondrosis of the spine in adults, as well as severe deformities of the skeleton in the elderly and old people. Poor posture is associated not only with diseases of the spine, but also diseases of the joints, feet and internal organs.
School education is inextricably linked with education and posture hygiene. In the book by renowned educator Bancroft, Schoolchildren’s Posture, Posture refers to the innate manner in which the body is held, especially when standing. It includes the correct formation of the spine, chest, shoulders and other body segments, as well as their relationship to each other in an upright position. (Bancroft, Jessie Hubbell, 1867).
At the beginning of the last century, in the book of the famous American teacher Bancroft “Posture of a schoolchild”, it was noted the need to educate posture for the correct formation of the spine, chest, shoulders and other body segments, as well as the formation of their correct relationship to each other. The sedentary nature of schoolwork, he wrote, is the first and constant enemy of good posture.
Due to the neglect of physical culture, students move from class to class with a stooped back, protruding shoulder blades, a tilted head and other deformations caused by school education. In military affairs, the utilitarian meaning of posture comes to the fore – posture is considered as an indicator that affects the effectiveness of a serviceman’s actions.
Education and posture correction is traditionally included in the training course for military personnel of almost all armies of the world. For example, the 1946 US Combat Manual says “Good posture is very important for a soldier. First, a soldier is often judged by his appearance – a man with good posture resembles a good soldier more, he more captures the attention of others. Secondly, it is a generally accepted psychological fact that good posture is associated with good morals – a person with good posture feels better and more confident. A person with poor posture cannot feel so confident, which is why they develop a negative and uncomfortable posture. Third, good posture allows the body to function most efficiently ”(translated by the author).
Let’s look at a simple example. Slouching posture, in a sitting position (good posture is shown on the right).
How would a physiologist, doctor, specialist in the field of physical culture or military affairs evaluate such a posture? A biomechanist would pay attention to the forward shift of the center of gravity of the head and to the overload of the upper thoracic spine. The doctor would pay attention to the possibility of spinal disease as a result of such an overload.
A specialist in the field of physical culture, first of all, would point out that such a posture is unacceptable as a starting position for performing even such a simple exercise as “turning the head”. In this case, injury to the cervical spine is possible. But for a specialist in the field of military affairs, it would be important to limit the possibility of turning the head with a stooped posture and, associated with this, reduce the effectiveness of the soldier’s action.
So, posture is an important object of study in a wide variety of sciences. However, it is physical culture that most fully studies all aspects of posture. Physical education considers posture as an indicator of physical development and physical health; and as a factor in increasing the efficiency of movement, and as a means of preventing injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system.
Posture and physical health.
Let us consider, on the one hand, how posture affects the course of diseases, primarily of the musculoskeletal system. And on the other hand, how some pathological conditions affect posture. Identifying the causes of posture disorders is necessary to build real and achievable tasks in education or posture correction.
To do this, you need to answer the following questions. Is posture correction possible at all without eliminating the cause that caused it? Is this reason removable by means of physical culture or medicine, or does it have to be reckoned with? What is the role of upbringing and posture correction in the overall complex of treatment?
For example, with scoliosis or osteochondrosis of the spine, a good condition of the musculoskeletal system slows down and postpones irreversible changes in the spine for a long time. If constant control of posture is neglected, the disease progresses and this leads to serious consequences.
The causes of poor posture can be structural (usually irreversible, associated with a physical defect, deformation, structural disorder) and functional. Structural disorders, in turn, are divided into congenital and acquired.
Congenital structural disorders account for 5-10% of the total, and their causes are most often congenital deformities and developmental disorders of the spine, ribs, chest, hip joints, and lower extremities. These include congenital scoliosis, underdevelopment of the limbs, funnel-shaped deformity of the chest, congenital dislocation of the hip, cerebral palsy …
Acquired structural disorders include: school scoliosis, kyphoscoliosis of adolescents, osteochondrosis of the spine, arthrosis, skeletal deformities against the background of osteoporosis of the elderly; amputation defects of limbs, etc.
Functional causes of poor posture are those that are temporary and reversible. They are associated with a dysfunction of any organ or system. However, in the absence of correction and “proper attention”, they lead to permanent structural changes, primarily in the spine. This state gradually turns into a new quality – illness.
Let us list the functional causes of posture disorders: Insufficiency of posture regulation mechanisms in children under 9 years of age and in elderly and senile people, associated with an age-related feature of the nervous system. Congenital insufficiency of the motor stereotype. Muscle dysfunction associated with muscle weakness, increased tone, shortening. As a result of the influence of various conditions of life, study, work, the predominance of the strength of any particular muscle group may develop. Uneven muscle development is the most common cause of poor posture. Disturbance of external respiration (as a result of diseases of the lungs and bronchi, or after operations on the chest). Diseases of the external respiratory organs are accompanied by a decrease in respiratory excursion, the formation of a barrel-shaped chest, which leads to a violation of the alignment of the shoulder blades and shoulder girdle – a violation of posture. General weakness as a result of past, chronic diseases, prolonged physical inactivity. Overweight, violation of fat metabolism. Psychological factors, especially impaired self-esteem.
Consider diseases of the musculoskeletal system and their relationship with posture.
Scoliotic spine disease. Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine in combination with its torsion (twisting). Scoliotic deformity is formed in school-age children as a result of a violation of the development of the vertebrae. It is associated with uneven growth of the right and left half of the vertebra.
According to modern theory, it is poor posture that is one of the reasons for the development of deformities of the growing spine. Scoliosis significantly impairs skeletal and muscle balance. Causes poor posture. Scoliotic disease can progress and requires special treatment until skeletal growth stops completely.
On the other hand, poor posture, namely a disturbed motor stereotype and muscle imbalance, accelerates the curvature of the spine and aggravates the course of scoliotic disease, which can lead to severe deformities of the trunk. Posture correction can significantly correct the deformation of the trunk and slow down scoliotic disease. Prevention of postural disorders at early school age is the main way to prevent school scoliosis.
The next common disease of school age is juvenile kyphoscoliosis. Kyphoscoliosis of adolescents is formed at the age of 14-16 years during the period of active growth of the skeleton – stretching – bone spurt. This period is characterized by the so-called juvenile osteoporosis – a decrease in the density and strength of the bone tissue of the vertebral bodies. The bone becomes soft, like “sugar thrown into water.” Under the influence of excessive load on the anterior supporting complex of the spine, the bodies of the thoracic spine are flattened and become wedge-shaped. (This is facilitated by a prolonged forced sitting position during schooling).
As a result, the curvature of the thoracic spine is formed. The kyphosis of the spine is accompanied by twisting and lateral curvature. Kyphoscoliosis in adolescents, as well as school scoliosis, significantly impairs skeletal and muscle balance and in itself is the cause of poor posture.
Kyphoscoliosis tends to progress and requires special treatment until skeletal growth stops completely.
On the other hand, poor posture, namely a disturbed motor stereotype and muscle imbalance, accelerates the curvature of the spine and deformation of the chest, which leads to dysfunction of the chest organs and a cosmetic defect. Up to 80% of schoolchildren belong to the risk group, the disease develops in 10% of them.
Needless to say, the importance of educating and correcting the posture of high school students. The problems of the spine accumulated in childhood and adolescence, of course, do not go away and people continue to live with them. In the process of the next period of life – (study at the university, work), the test of the human skeleton for strength continues.
The previously laid down bad biomechanics of the spine, and a sedentary lifestyle, contribute to the development of such a dangerous disease as osteochondrosis of the spine. Its essence is the transformation of elastic and durable shock absorbers – intervertebral discs into rigid structures, which, moreover, being displaced, are capable of squeezing the nerve formations of the spinal cord with their subsequent inflammation, which is accompanied by pain, muscle paralysis, and even the need for surgical treatment.
Ultimately, the spine becomes a rigid structure with limited mobility, which limits the possibility of segmental alignment, worsens posture and makes it difficult to correct it. Poor posture, in turn, contributes to the development of osteochondrosis.
Flat feet is a general term for a violation of the biomechanics of the foot and the entire lower limb as a whole. Mitigation of the inertial load when walking and running is carried out by a complex complex of the articular-ligamentous apparatus, which connects the 26 main bones of the foot, in which 3 longitudinal and transverse vaults are distinguished.
Let’s consider the structure of only one of them – the middle longitudinal vault. The calcaneus, talus and bones of the metatarsus and tarsus form a kind of arch – a spring that can flatten and expand. The load – body weight – is distributed evenly across the front and back of the foot.
The fore and hind parts of the foot are connected into a single kinematic chain by a powerful elastic tendon – the plantar aponeurosis, which, like a spring, returns the arch of the foot flattened under load. The problem of “flat feet” appears from the beginning of the formation of the arches of the foot (at the age of 7 – 9 years).
Flat feet can progress at the age of 14-16 years (during the period of active bone growth), at 35-48 years (age-related decrease in the elasticity of ligaments and muscles), at 48-55 years (changes in hormonal levels and a decrease in bone strength). Most often, flat feet are a problem for women associated with elegant shoes, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause.
With the most common flat feet, the longitudinal and transverse arch of the foot are flattened, the heel is deflected outward. The forefoot is deformed in such a way that the first metatarsal bone, deviating outward, leads to an inward displacement of the first toe. The toes of the foot, forced to maintain the shape of the shoe, overlap one another.
The foot plays an important role in shaping posture. In the supporting structures of the body, each overlying joint depends on the underlying one and vice versa. Foot disease is the cause of the asymmetry of the whole body. The figure shows the main positional disorders with flat feet. Flattening of the foot causes a cascade of compensatory changes and overloads of the lower extremities, pelvis, and spine. The foot, spreading out and deviating outward, leads to external rotation of the lower leg and compensatory internal rotation of the thigh. This increases the X-shape of the knees.
On the other hand, the position of the overlying body segments in relation to the foot can improve the condition of the arches of the foot.
Posture as an indicator of mental health. Let us consider, on the one hand, how posture affects psychophysiological indicators, and on the other hand, how the state of mind affects posture.
The famous English researcher, Charles Darwin (1880) in his book “Emotions of People and Animals” introduced the concept of “Posture Reflex”: “Certain movements and postures (sometimes to a large extent) are capable of evoking corresponding emotions. … Take a sad pose, and after a while you will be sad … Emotions induce movement, but movement also evokes emotions. “
“Posture expresses a state of mind” was liked to repeat by General of the Russian Army Gustav Mannerheim. Indeed, in response to negative emotions reflexively, as a result of an innate behavioral instinct, a person takes the so-called passive-defensive posture. The passive-defensive posture is characterized by the shoulders raised and brought forward, the head lowered and pushed forward, the stooped back. With frequent repetition, this posture can and often does become habitual, fixed in the motor posture stereotype.
Many diseases of the psychoemotional sphere (neuroses) are associated with diseases of the musculoskeletal system and impaired posture. Chronic fatigue syndrome is the most common disease of modern man (it is also called neurasthenia, vegetative-vascular dystonia).
The most common sign of neurasthenia is a feeling of constant fatigue, headaches, dizziness, palpitations, etc. People suffering from neurosis are always “squeezed”, they are characterized by uneven muscle tension and poor posture.
A person is able to consciously correct the usual posture and the manner of movement developed over the years, and thereby free himself from existing problems. This, for example, is the basis of the currently fashionable method of Frederick Alexander (1869-1955). Various methods of psychosomatic correction effectively help to relax muscles and relieve excessive tension. Our thoughts and our body are inextricably linked, and changes in one entail a change in the other. By acting on our thoughts, we regulate muscle tension. By changing the position of the body, we thereby change our emotional state.
Of particular note is the primary positional disorders in adolescence. So, boys and girls, under the influence of various psycho-emotional complexes, deform their posture – they push both shoulders forward and “hunch down”. As a result, a cyclical restructuring of muscle groups is started and pathological posture is formed. Poor posture, in turn, contributes to the consolidation of psycho-emotional disorders and the formation of neuroses.