Joyful Dance Laura Stanyer

Joyful Dance Laura Stanyer

Friday, 22 July 2011

Good Posture - Postural Alignment for Dancers


Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against force of gravity while standing, sitting or moving. It is important to understand the correct position of the body parts and the process of adjusting body parts so that they are stacked equally on top of one another in a healthy position. Good posture requires the least amount of muscle activity to maintain an upright position.

Posture is important for good health as:

  • It allows us to be active with more energy, less stress and fatigue
  • It allows musclo-skeletal system to hold the body parts in place
  • It allows space for your vital organs to function at optimal efficiency
  • It allows you to breathe more efficiently
  • It promotes efficient functioning of the nervous system

What is Neutral Alignment?

Specialised muscle groups known as postural muscles work against the downward pull of gravity to maintain an upright posture.
To maintain neutral alignment these postural muscles that run up the front and the back of the body, cross all weight baring joints work constantly against gravity to hold the body in a neutral position. The aim is to maintain a balance when still or moving but with no extra tension. It is important to be aware that you inherit postural factors however, changes take place throughout your life depending on the way you use your body. Also be aware that your posture constantly changes depending on the activity you are engaged in, whether you are sitting or standing for long periods of time or dancing, your musclo-skeletal system is constantly working to maintain alignment.

Short Term Changes

Short-term changes occur as physical, mental or emotional stresses during the day can cause fatigue in the postural muscles making them less efficient at working against gravity.

Long Term Changes

The cumulative effect of these short term changes, plus other factors like injury, can lead to more permanent changes in posture as bone structure alters due to prolonged muscle imbalances.

Possible of Causes Postural Changes:

  • Hereditary factors
  • Environment resulting from bad posture, for example how you sit
  • Stress mental, physical or emotional
  • Repetitive action - muscles shorten, overuse and muscle imbalance
  • Trauma effects of an accident or injury
  • Disease affecting the musclo-skeletal system

Ideal Alignment (Neutral)

Every human body is unique and from the moment we are born various factors, (gravity and the activities we engage in) alter our posture therefore muscle imbalance and misalignment will affect all of us to a greater or lesser extent.

Alignment from the front

Imagine a thread though the head giving a feeling of upward lift, through neck and upper spine, keeping the body light and open. Imagine a sense of relaxation and downward movement by a thread through the base of the spine.
  • Stand with your feet in parallel placed hip width apart; spread your weight equally between both feet
  • Head floating on top of neck with neck long and centred
  • Chest area open with a light lift of sternum (do not overarch in lower back)
  • Shoulders relaxed - blades go down back and inwards
  • Arms hang from the shoulders, hands relaxed
  • Ribcage down with abdominals gently engaged
  • Pelvis in neutral alignment, supporting the lumbar spine
  • Hips level (imagine triangle reaching from one hip bone to the other, down to your pubic bone. Each point of the triangle is at the same level)
  • Buttock, thighs and tail bone are relaxed avoid arching lower back
  • Knees in line with feet, keep knees soft
  • Weight is equally distributed between the feet and evenly distributed over 3 points on feet: under big toe, little and heel with natural arches and toes relaxed

Assess alignment from the side

Line of gravity
This is an imaginary line, which falls vertically through the body and is a useful measure when assessing posture.

From a side view standing upright the line of gravity passes through:

 The line of gravity will not fall through all of these points if posture is incorrect and will move as the position of the body changes.

Common Postural Problems

When viewed from the side the spine's natural position appears as an S shape curve. The bones are formed into four distinct curves of the spine, which are held together and supported by the back muscles and ligaments. It allows movement of the head and trunk and supports and maintains the centre support for the entire body and supports the upper parts of the body. For many people this natural spinal alignment is misalignment due to incorrect postural habits such as sitting or standing awkwardly.
KyphosisLordosisFlat BackScolosis
Exaggerated outward curvature of thoracic spine
Muscle imbalance:
  • Weak lower back muscles
  • Tight chest muscles
Exaggerated inward curvature of lumbar spine (swayback)
Muscle imbalance:
  • Weak Abdominal muscles
  • Tight hip flexors and lower back

Diminished inward curvature of the lumbar spineExaggerated lateral curvature of any part of the spine

Laura Stanyer's Postural Visualization, watch and follow along to release tension and promote awareness of you body and alignment.  Enjoy!

Disclaimer: The information contained on this web page is intended as general guidance and information only. Laura Stanyer and its authors accept no liability for any loss, injury or damage however incurred as a consequence, whether directly or indirectly, of the use this information. All advice on this web page should only be used under the supervision of a qualified dance / fitness / healthcare professional.


  1. Most of the body deformities are the result of bad postures and cause pains and inflammation. I suggest the people to try acupuncture which is totally side effects free and makes the patient energetic and light.

  2. Hi Laura
    Good info.
    Please check "about me". You have ay instead at before Laban.