A posture assessment allows an exercise or rehab professional to observe how your body is aligned when you stand still and when you move, such as squatting or walking, according to Anthony Carey, owner and corrective exercise professional of Function First Studio in San Diego. It can also determine your risk of injury and source of disorders, such as back or knee pain. A posture assessment is needed so the professional can provide you with proper exercise treatment for your pain, movement dysfunction or goals.
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Rehab and fitness professionals use two main types of posture assessments for their patients or clients, Carey says. The static posture assessment examines a person's posture in a standing position with the legs hip-width apart and the arms to the sides. The professional observes the posture from the front, back and side views, and sometimes from a bird's-eye-view. In a dynamic posture assessment, the professional examines the person's gait, squat and other movement patterns. Both types require very little equipment and can be done almost anywhere. Carey suggests that you do a re-assessment once a week or once a month, depending on your condition.
Functional Movement Screening
Many rehab and fitness professionals use the Functional Movement Screen, or FMS, which is a seven-step movement test to determine the quality of basic movement patterns that are necessary for sports and daily activities. According to physical therapist Gray Cook, author of "Movement," the FMS is a "ranking and grading system that documents movement patterns that are key to normal function." These patterns include the deep squat, lunge, step-up, back reach, one-rep push-up, straight leg raise and the rotary stability. It helps identify any weakness in your body and provides professionals a foundation for their patients' or clients' exercise program. Once the weaknesses or dysfunctions are identified, you get a customized exercise program to correct these problems. These exercises help you strengthen weak muscle groups or movement patterns, improve mobility and balance and prevent injuries.
With a proper posture assessment, the exercise or rehab professional doesn't need to do guesswork or rely on a cookie-cutter program for your exercise program, according to Carey. It documents how well you move, the source of your pain or movement dysfunction, and reasons you are doing the exercises and strategies suggested. This protects the professional from a civil litigation if a patient or client blames the professional for causing pain or other reasons -- assuming that the professional is practicing within her scope of practice and work ethics.
Find a qualified fitness or rehab professional who has gone through extensive training and education in exercise science, human movement and posture assessments. Personal trainers who are FMS certified, physical therapists, sports chiropractors and athletic trainers are a few of the qualified professionals to perform posture assessments on you.
Although rehab professionals such as physical therapists and chiropractors may make a diagnosis from a posture assessment, personal trainers and group exercise instructors may not do so unless they're also licensed rehab professionals, according to Juan Carlos Santana, director of the Institute of Human Performance. Any fitness professionals who make a diagnosis or attempt to treat a medical condition may threaten their clients' life and health and face legal actions from clients or their families.