Posture and movement assessments are an important part of designing an exercise program.
While clients often express a desire to lose weight, tone or shape their bodies, or improve their overall fitness levels, one primary objective of all training programs should be to improve functionality. In other words, a training program should also help people enhance their ability to perform their activities of daily living (ADL). One key aspect of functionality involves movement efficiency.
Through posture and movement assessments, it can be determined what muscles may be impacting the client’s ability to move. These posture issues can then be addressed with exercises and stretches in a stability and mobility program.
In each assessment you are looking to see what posture error is occurring and which muscles are compensating for the deviation. You are looking for which muscles are tight and which muscles are weak. Tight muscles need to be stretched with a flexibility program and weak muscles need to be strengthened through a strengthening program.
Here is an easy process for determining what muscles are involved in the compensation.
1. Look at the posture the client is exhibiting. What action is occurring at the joint you are assessing?
2. What muscle is the agonist (prime mover) for this action?
3. The agonist muscle is the tight muscle that needs to be stretched.
4. What is the antagonist muscle to this action?
5. The antagonist muscle is the weak muscle, which needs to be strengthened.
Take a look at these helpful blog articles, which lists the most important muscles.
Muscles That Move the Leg
Muscles of the Core
Muscles That Move the Arm
Muscles That Move the Scapulae
When reviewing the information in these articles, remember that each action has the opposing action listed below to show easy differentiation between agonist and antagonist muscles.
Let’s do an example together:
During the Hurdle Step movement screen (page 154), one of the deviations being examined is the movement of the knees.
1. The client’s knee is moving inward (into the midline). This action is hip/knee adduction.
2. The agonist muscle group is the hip adductors.
3. The hip adductors need to be stretched.
4. The antagonist muscle group is the hip abductors.
5. The gluteus medius and minimus need to be strengthened.
Don’t forget to complete each posture assessment on yourself or on a friend or family member. Every time a muscle is mentioned, use your exercise science manual or the articles above to find the muscle, then locate the muscle on your body and understand the actions it causes.
This is also a great time to look ahead to Chapter 9. What exercises could address weak muscles? What stretches could address tight muscles? For the hurdle step screen example, you could incorporate the Hip Mobilization exercise (page 267), an adductor stretch such as Seated Straddle Stretch or Seated Butterfly Stretch and the Lower Extremity Alignment exercise (page 289).