Strengthening the Postural Muscles is Essential for Standing and Walking


Posture is essential. These pictures of posture may look familiar to you if you have read my other books. I like to share visuals to help you become aware of your posture when you sit, stand, and walk.

poor and good posture comparisons


This is from a chapter in one of my books that has a lot of information, and it can be overwhelming for some. As a stroke survivor, you do not have to memorize all the knowledge and muscles. This chapter was written to teach and give visuals and a greater understanding of muscles and movements to help assist you better to a stronger recovery. Knowledge is power.

Studies show communication between the spinal cord to both the brain and the limbs can be compromised if the spine or spinal cord is in poor posture. See the pictures of my poor posture. The hip and pelvic girdle cannot be strong and stable to support the leg muscles, which need to gain the strength required to gain a stronger recovery in the legs and walking gait. This includes helping fix foot drop and leg drag. In some survivors, the affected leg feels very heavy, and some have numb spots and no feeling in areas.

When someone stands rounded over with the hips tucked under, as seen in the pictures of me, it limits the range of movement the legs can make in movements such as walking. Poor posture also shows that there are weak core, spine, and back muscles. When this occurs, other muscles try to do the job of these postural muscles, leading to more malfunction.

An important tip while performing your physical therapy and/or training (exercising) on posture, balance, standing, and walking skills is to keep your eyes looking forward. Your body follows your eyeballs. If you look or face down, the body will try to follow. It will keep you in poor posture.  

The pelvis’s stabilizing muscles must be strong and in balance. These muscles are also essential in walking. You will learn about all these muscles throughout this book.

The first picture shows my client leaning slightly forward. This will prevent the body from achieving the following outcomes: rebuilding new pathways, strength, and cognitive skills needed to rebuild balance and spatial awareness for safety in standing, walking, and everyday movements. Also, all the muscles are not building strength in the positions needed to help other muscles also build the strength they need. Studies show that when the body is in proper posture, all the functions and systems work better. In the second picture, she is upright. In this position, the deep spinal muscles can be activated properly to help build the strength and proprioception needed for safer mobility and stabilization in movement.

She is working on her postural muscles and her balance is in proper alignment in the second picture. This also helps rebuild spatial awareness and proprioception, which is needed for everyday movement and activities. Note: She has a bar on the wall for safety. I suggest always having a bar and a safe environment for your exercising and balancing practices. Safety first!

Also, if you look closely at these two pictures, you will see that she is standing on the BOSU® ball in one picture and a balance pad in the other. As you know from my teachings and books, these are both great balance tools when used safely and properly.

In the next four illustrations, I show some of the muscles that will not work to their best performance needed for walking if the body is leaning forward, as seen in the illustration of the man leaning forward to walk.

The illustration above on the left is on an extreme angle. This is for teaching purposes to help give a vision of when the body does not line up in proper posture from head to toe, and it causes more challenges. The one on the right is proper posture.

 Working on posture and strengthening the spine is essential for helping stroke survivors achieve further recovery. Remember when children learn to stand and walk, they practice standing daily and often. They don’t just practice one or two days a week at appointed times. In most cases to gain a strength or movement back, the movement must be practiced daily for the brain to make new pathways needed.

Excerpt from Executive Director Tracy Markley’s book: Stroke Recovery Leg Stability and Walking Gait

Categorized in: