See for yourself

Postural therapy is so simple that even you can detect some of your own posture deviations if you know what to look for.

Step 1. Have someone take a picture of you standing up normally, preferably against a blank wall or background. If you are unable to do this, you can stand in front of a mirror.

Step 2. Compare what you see to the image below.

functional design posture

We are going to look for any deviations from the above “functional design posture”. The body is designed such that the load joints – the ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders – should all be stacked directly on top of one another with the head centered over the shoulders. Remember, when we deviate from that design, joints wear abnormally, and the body develops strains that it wasn’t made to handle. Thus we develop pain and become more prone to instability and injury.

Foot position:

In functional posture, the feet should be faced straight ahead, parallel to each other. Do one or both feet turn in or out? Is one turned more than the other? In addition, the ankles should be directly under the hip joint (look at the image above to see where this is). If your stance is wide, your body is trying to give you a false sense of balance by widening your base. If your feet are closer together, your base is unstable and unable to properly support the weight above it.

Knee position:

Do your ankles, knees and hip joints both form a straight, vertical line? The knees may be closer or farther apart than the ankles or hips, putting great strain on the knee joint, which is designed to act as a hinge moving forward and back.

Shoulder position:

We use the hands to spot shoulders that are rounded forward. In proper position, you should only really see the inside edge of the first (pointer) finger and thumb in your picture or reflection. If you can see the back of your hands and knuckles, this indicates that your shoulders are rounded forward. Does one shoulder appear higher than the other? Does one arm appear “longer” (hint: it’s not)?

Differences Left to Right:

Imagine a line going from directly between your heels (not toes) straight up, perpendicular to the floor. This is your central line of balance. If you print the picture you had taken, you can even draw this line to give you a better reference. You can also put a vertical line of tape on your mirror and stand so that it lands right between your heels. Is your nose on this line, indicating that the head is centered? Does more of your body appear to be on one side of the line? Is there more “space” between your arm and your body on one side than the other? Are there any other differences you can spot between the left and right side of your body?

BONUS:

If you can get someone to take a picture of you from the side view, you can also see some common deviations from this angle. One of the most common is head forward positioning, and we use the ear to reference this. If you drew a line straight down from the ear, does it fall in front of the shoulder? How about in front of or behind the hip?

If you drew a line straight up from just in front of the ankle bone, as seen in the image above, are there any joints that don’t fall on that line? This can be harder to see, but if you notice anything that doesn’t line up, the second law of dynamic tension is being violated. In other words, the muscled on the front and back of your body that work to keep you upright are not doing their job, and other muscles are straining to maintain your balance.


These are just a few common deviations which compromise one’s ability to function without injury or pain. Even small deviations can cause major issues, especially if left unchecked. The good news is that you have the power to correct your own misalignments. Since the third law of form & function states that bones do what muscles tell them, we simply need to retrain the muscles. Once the strain misalignments cause is diminished, the body is able to heal and pain lessens.