Your body is built like a machine, and like any machine, it is necessary for all of its parts to work properly in order for the entire system to function at its best. If one part of your body is not working right, it can throw off the entire system. In terms of the musculoskeletal system, which is basically the framework of your body, it is important for all of your bones and joints to be properly aligned in order for your muscles to be supported and move your body the way that they should. If you are experiencing any aches or pains within your body, chances are your body may be out of alignment.
As we deal with day-to-day responsibilities, often it may be difficult to be aware of how we are positioning our bodies. If this is something that you struggle with or you are just unaware of, don’t worry. Here are five quick and easy tests that you can do to decipher if your body is in good alignment.
- Check how you walk
One quick way to check if your body is in good alignment is by the way you walk. Simply walk around your home and take a look at how your feet are positioned. Ideally, your foot’s line of progression should form an angle of 4-7 degrees with a line from the center of your heel to your second toe. If you notice that the toes on one side of your body are pointed out more than the other side, or if both sides are pointed out (greater than a 7 degree angle), then that may indicate something in your lower body is out of alignment. This may cause you to be using different muscles within your body and may make you more prone to different injuries and pain in your feet, ankles, knees, hips, and even your low back.
- Check your Q angle
Your Q angle is the angle formed by your femur (upper thigh bone) and your tibia (shin bone). To measure this, a physical therapist may measure the angle formed by a line from a point on your pelvis called your anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS) to the middle of your patella (knee cap) and a line from the middle of your patella to your tibial tuberosity, which is a small bump on the upper part of your tibia, just a couple inches below your patella. A quick way that you can assess this is to look at where your tibial tuberosity is positioned in relation to your patella. Hold your patella with your thumb and index finger and find your tibial tuberosity. If your tibial tuberosity is not relatively close to the center of your patella then that may indicate that your knee is out of alignment. This may be due to different muscular compensations throughout your lower body and result in unwanted forces going through your knee, leading to various pains and risk of injury.
- Check your pelvis
To check your pelvis, you will need to find your ASIS and your PSIS, which are two bony bumps located on the front and back of either side of your pelvis. Now, look at the positioning of these two bumps in a mirror. Check to see if they are situated in a horizontal line or if one is lower or higher than the other. If the latter is true then your pelvic may be either in an anterior tilt or a posterior tilt. This, again, may be the result of an imbalance in your muscles and may result in different compensations and misalignments that potentially place your body at risk for greater aches and pains.
- Check your frontal posture
To check your frontal posture, stand in front of a mirror. While doing so, there are a couple of different things you can check to see if your body is in a good alignment. First, observe if both of your shoulders are level. Is one higher than the other? If so, then that may suggest that you have some muscular imbalance in your upper body. Next, check to see if your body is positioned straight. To do this, see if the tip of your nose makes a straight line down with your belly button. If it does then most likely your spine is straight. If the line is angled to either side then it may indicate that your spine is not properly aligned, and, again, may create different forces on your body that make you more prone to injury.
- Check your lateral posture
Now turn your body to the side to check your lateral posture. Ideally, you want the opening of your ear to be in line with your acromion process (a bony bump on the tip of your shoulder) and your greater trochanter (a bony bump on the outside of your hip). If this is in line then chances are you have a good standing posture. If not, that again indicates that your spine is out of alignment. This can result in different tensions through your spinal segments and may contribute to different aches and pains throughout your entire body.
If you notice that your body is out of alignment after performing one of these tests, the first thing you can do is to try and correct your posture or the way you walk. If this is difficult for you or you still experience your pain after doing so, then you probably have some muscular imbalance in your body that is preventing your body from working properly. If this is the case, then it may be wise for you to seek out a physical therapist who can determine what is specifically imbalanced and can help you to correct it before it progresses to a more severe injury.