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The free Posture Clinic, hosted by Billy Polson, covered several concepts that involved proper posture.  This article will discuss the tests for posture issues, and exercises to repair those issues. There are four methods that can be used to test posture issues:  the plumb line test; the wall standing and dowel standing tests; and the foam roll chest test.

The Plumb Line Test involves hanging a string from the ceiling and attaching a small metal weight to the bottom (similar to Figure 1).  In order to analyze posture from the front view, the subject must make sure the plumb line passes through the belly button, nose, and middle of feet.  In order to analyze posture from the side view, the subject’s ears must be in line with their shoulders, hips, knees, and mid foot.

Figure 1

Figure 2

The Wall Standing and Dowel Standing Tests are both similar in that the subject must make sure their head, shoulders, and butt are against the surface (i.e. the wall or dowel) during exercise (similar to Figure 2).

The Foam Roll Chest Test involves the subject lying on their back on a foam roll with their shoulders flexed laterally and their elbows flexed both at 90 degrees (similar to Figure 3).  The objective of the test is to touch the elbows on the floor.  If the elbows do not touch the floor, it is possible the subject may be kyphotic.  If the subject moves the back of their hands to the floor but cannot touch them to the floor, it is possible the subject is kyphotic and may even have some internal rotation at the shoulder.

In addition to the testing methods, Billy Polson also discussed several exercises that could be used for the different postural issues.  For kyphotic postures, three useful exercises included the chest stretch, the neck decompression stretch, and the cobra stretch.  The chest stretch involves the subject laying in parallel on top of a foam roll with the arms raised at shoulder level at 90 degrees (as indicated in Figure 3).  Try touching your elbows to the floor in order to get improved chest flexibility.  For the neck decompression exercise, the subject must bring their neck back and tuck their chin into their neck so their ears are in line with their shoulders (as indicated in Figure 4). The cobra exercise is especially useful for kyphotic subjects in that it also strengthens the upper back muscles.  For this exercise, the subject must lie on their stomach with the tops of their feet flat on the ground and their arms at their sides (as indicated in Figure 4).  This exercise requires you to lift your chin off the floor and raise your arms up by your shoulders.  At the same time, you want to bring your shoulders back and pinch them together so as to engage your upper back muscles (as indicated by Figure 5).  By engaging in these exercises, your chest muscles will become less tight, and your shoulder and upper muscles will pull your thoracic spine into a less kyphotic position.

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5

For lordotic postures, a good stretch is the kneeled hip flexor stretch.  For this stretch, you want to scissor your legs, one in front and one in back, with both knees flexed at 90 degrees.  Keep the torso upright and support your body by putting the weight of your forward foot on your heel and the weight of your back foot on the top of your foot (as indicated in Figure 6).  To feel the stretch, lean forward and push your front knee forward in a way that is comfortable for you (as indicated in Figure 6).

Figure 6

Figure 7

To alleviate sway back, the hamstrings strap stretch is an excellent exercise.  This stretch involves the subject lying on their back with their legs straight and their toes pointed up.  You would want to have the strap wrapped around the bottom of the midfoot (as indicated in Figure 7).  To feel the stretch, pull the leg with the strap around it to your chest while keeping the leg straight.  While you are pulling the strapped leg back, it is important that you keep the stationary leg as flat on the floor as possible (as indicated in Figure 7).

Author:  Jordan French

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