In this post we look at why postural assessments don’t work and why they may even be counterproductive.
Have you ever made assumptions about somebody’s character based on how they look?
We do this all the time, usually unconsciously. Psychologists estimate it takes seconds for us to form a decision about somebody. We then spend the rest of our time looking for things that confirm our initial judgement.
Great news if you’re looking for a job or a partner, it means you only have to hold it together for around 10 seconds.
Not so great however if you’re basing a treatment strategy on this level of evidence. This is pretty much what practitioners who use postural assessments do as a fundamental part of their approach.
Imagine a car mechanic just looking at your car and telling you what’s wrong with it.
I recently took my partner’s car to a mechanic because something funky was going on with the transmission. The mechanic didn’t take one look at it and say the gearbox had gone. She ran through a series of diagnostic tests which required a computer to assess the constituent parts.
Then she told me the gearbox had gone.
Likewise making a decision about what is going on with your muscular system based on how things look on the outside is fundamentally flawed. What’s more is that these assessments strangely all lead to the same conclusions.
Can it really be that we all have tight hamstrings and weak glutes?
It’s a nonsense of course.
I can’t tell which muscles are weak simply by looking at you and neither can anybody else. You have to test which is exactly what we do using Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT).
When you do that you realise that we’re all different which isn’t really that surprising is it?
Here’s Tom Purvis, Physical Therapist and founder of the Resistance Training Specialist programme on exactly why postural assessments don’t work.
“You cannot analyse posture. That is nonsense. There is no way of knowing what is causing what is being observed. You don’t know if someone is standing the way they are because of structure, habit, laziness, psychological issues, hormonal imbalances or pathological concerns.”
“This is another paint-by-numbers approach that falsely empowers personal trainers. If you want to check posture, you should be checking specific strengths and specific ranges of motion; not simply looking at someone or looking at gross ranges of motion.”