Help yourself, your clients, friends and family members understand how poor posture might be causing aches and pains with this simple and easy assessment.

The “Wall Test”

  1. Stand against a wall in bare feet with your feet pointing straight ahead and your heels, buttocks, shoulders and head touching the wall.  If standing in good alignment, your body weight should be felt toward the outside of your heels.  However, if you feel pressure in the front of your feet and toes, your body weight is collapsing in and forward.  This added pressure to your feet, ankles, and knees can cause pain.
  2. Next slide your hand behind your back while standing against the wall. Evaluate the space between your lower back and the wall.  If you’re only able to slide your fingers into the space, you have an acceptable degree of arch in your lower back.  However, if there is enough space for you to slide your whole hand or forearm between your back and the wall, your lower back arches too much. If your lower back typically arches too much, your pelvis will also shift out of alignment by tipping down at the front. This indicates poor posture of your pelvis and lower back and can lead to movement dysfunction as well as hip, groin, leg, and lower back pain.
  3. Lastly, try to decrease the arch in your lower back by tucking your tail-bone under (i.e., waist band moves up at the front).  When you do this, see whether your shoulders round forward away from the wall.  If they do, the muscles of your shoulders and upper back may be weak (which is why it’s difficult to keep your shoulders back to the wall when you remove the excessive arch in your lower back).  This weakness indicates poor posture in your upper back and shoulders and can lead to shoulder, back, and neck pain. It also places more stress on the lower back (since it must compensate for the lack of strength in your upper back).

These postural assessment techniques can help you (and your clients) understand how the body compensates for one area of dysfunction by overusing/misusing other areas (which can eventually lead to pain and/or injury).