Dear friends welcome to my Home Page on Human Posture. My name
is Selvaraj, I am from India, and I have been interested in the
subject of Human Posture for the last 25 Years ever since,
I came across a book on the subject by Dr. Wilfred Barlow.
2. THE BOOK BY DR. BARLOW
Fig 1: Dr. Wilfred
Barlow, a Rheumatologist, did extensive research on human
posture and authored the Book, The Alexander Principle. His
book suggests ways to correct your posture and highlights
medical problems that can arise from faulty posture. The medical
problems discussed in Dr. Barlow’s books are Rheumatism,
Arthritis, Cervical Spondylosis, Back Pain, Breathing Disorders,
Stress Disorders and Gastro-intestinal Disorders. Dr Barlow
estimates that 99% of adults will have faulty posture (more
on this later).
Speculation on human posture forms part of our philosophical, social
and cultural heritage. Human beings have pondered this subject from
ancient times. In India, around 400 BC, the discipline of Yoga took
shape to help invigorate the body, calm the mind, and to develop
ones hidden mental and spiritual powers. Over the past hundred years,
many other disciplines such as Chiropractics, Osteopathy, Rolfing
and The Alexander Method of posture correction have evolved to help
individuals cope with their posture. You can find out more on these
subjects in the Internet.
In this presentation we look at human posture from a different
perspective, the perspective of an Engineer, deviating from traditional
more intuitive methods used to understand the problem. The bones
and muscles in the body form a Mechanism, controlled by the Human
Brain. This composite system can be explored using Engineering Principles
to facilitate better scientific understanding of the problem.
4. THE HUMAN MUSCULOSKELETAL
Fig 2: The human body is a mechanism (Picture,
||Fig 3: The human Musculoskeletal System can be compared to
a system with struts and guy ropes. When engineers design such
systems, the guy ropes are spaced well away.
||Fig 4: In the human body, the guy ropes (muscles) are closely
spaced making the system very fine-tuned and critical.
The bones and muscles in the body – which complement one
another, and act in unison – form the musculoskeletal system.
This system is very, very complex and very critically put together.
It is so complex that so far no computer model has been made to
explain human movement in a satisfactory way.
Let us find out why the design of the musculoskeletal system is
so complex and critical. In Fig 3 we see a structure which engineers
design, consisting of struts hinged end-to-end and supported with
the help of guy ropes. Engineers design such systems with great
care, spacing out the guy ropes to make the structure strong and
stable. The human body can be compared to this system by visualizing
the struts as bones and the guy ropes as muscles. In the human body
however, the guy ropes are very close together, Fig 4, making the
structure very critical and prone to POSTURAL COLLAPSE.
5. POSTURAL COLLAPSE:
||Fig 5. Postural collapse
What is Postural Collapse? Postural Collapse is a condition where
the musculoskeletal system is so badly deformed that it is no longer
possible to easily revert to the original balanced state. In Fig
5, we see a system of links (bones) controlled by ropes (muscles).
In the lower extremities the joints have moved beyond their safe
limit causing a group of muscles to be over-contracted. When muscles
are over-contracted, over a period of time they stop functioning
in a normal way, and cannot readily be relaxed to their original
length. (The distortion visualized here will also significantly
alter the orientation of bones and muscles higher up, effectively
distorting the complete structure!)
As a consequence of this distortion, it is no longer possible
for the muscles to contract powerfully, since their natural functioning
will by inhibited by the brain to protect the integrity of the body.
What appears to be a local weakness, will in reality distort and
weaken the whole body - it is a condition that cannot be easily
6. HOW DO WE KNOW THAT PEOPLE
COLLAPSE THEIR POSTURE?
|Fig 6: Distortions of the neck. A. Neck collapsed forward.
B. Head back, Upper neck forward, lower neck back. C. Head pulled
back. D. Lower neck collapsed out of sight. E. Overstraightened
neck. Fourth vertebra slipped forward on fifth. (From The Alexander
Principle, by Dr. Wilfred Barlow).
It is difficult, with our available knowledge, to comment on people’s
posture by looking at them externally. It is necessary to look at
the internal orientation of bones and muscles. The orientation of
muscles unfortunately, cannot be determined readily due to non-availability
of suitable sensing equipments. The orientation of bones on the
other hand can be studied with the help of X rays. Here too, faults
are readily discernable only in X rays taken of the Cervical Vertebrae,
as seen in Fig 6. It is not too difficult to visualize that faults
shown in the figure will be very difficult to correct.
Studying Fig 6, we can make the following additional deductions. One, if the bones are distorted in this way, the muscular system must be similarly distorted. Two, It is unlikely that distortion will be localized, similar distortions must exist in the rest of the body - even though existing sensing devices may not readily allow us to visualize these distortions. Three, because of the phenomenon of postural collapse, posture can only be defined as being very good or very bad, it is difficult to define something in between. Four, postural collapse is bound to alter our external appearance (we do not have the tools at present to understand from our external appearance, the full gravity of the problem – it will also be inconsiderate to tell a person that his external appearance indicates postural problems; all of us value our external appearance)
A book is available ( 294 pages, 190 figures) which discusses this subject in greater detail. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Paper : Paper published in Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium 2005, Bangalore, India:
‘ The Performance and Stability of Mechanisms in Living Organisms’
If you wish to have an E Copy please contact email@example.com