But the assessment of body posture is also a therapeutic tool that can be used to discover muscular or fascial (connective tissue) imbalances that may be the source of pain or movement dysfunction. In her new book, "Postural Assessment," physiotherapist Jane Johnson provides clear and detailed explanations of how to observe and analyze postural issues and the reasons why such analyses can be helpful to us all. Johnson's book is part of the Hands-On Guides for Therapists series, published by Human Kinetics, which specializes in publications on physical activity and health. (Other titles in the series include "Therapeutic Stretching," "Deep Tissue Massage," "Sports Massage," and "Soft Tissue Release.") While the book is primarily designed for practitioners of physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractic, and sports medicine, it is useful for anyone interested in how the body moves. Dance, acting, singing, yoga, and fitness instructors will find it especially relevant to the work they do.
Though Johnson assumes her readers possess a basic understanding of anatomy and familiarity with anatomical terminology, the book is written for postural assessment beginners. A slim, abundantly illustrated paperback, it provides thorough descriptions of what posture analysis reveals about the relationships among various body parts and how those relationships affect and can inhibit movement.
Before the presentation of step-by-step instructions on assessing upper and lower body parts from anterior, posterior, and lateral perspectives, Johnson outlines basic assessment principles, emphasizing the importance of taking an overall approach. She notes that while an anomaly may appear in one area of the body, the root of the problem may lie elsewhere. For example, someone who tips his chin upward may not be doing so because of shortened musculature at the back of the neck; instead, too much rounding of his upper spine may be requiring him to assume that head posture to see what's in front of him.
My favorite parts of the book are the "Quick Questions," little quizzes Johnson includes at the end of each chapter. She advises you to scan the questions before you read the chapter, so as to focus your journey through the information and help spotlight key points. Though highly scientific, this publication should not be ignored by anyone who engages in body movement as art.