Research article
Volume 3, No. 1, 2011, 59-65
UDC 616.711-007.5-053.5:796.035
Gordana Tripunovic
ìJovan Jovanovi„ ñ Zmajî, Elementary School
Sremska Kamenica, Serbia
A basic posture is thought to be inherited, but it can be modified by environmental factors
such as illness, age, physical activity, living conditions, physical environment, diet, and many
others. The purpose of this study was to determine the differences in postural status between
trained athletes and untrained children of the same age. The population sample included boys
aged 8-10 years from elementary schools in the city of Novi Sad, as well as from sport clubs in
the same area. They were assigned to either of the three groups: A) pupils participating in an
individual sport (N=50); B) pupils participating in a team sport (N=51), and C) pupils attending
physical education (PE) classes only (N=50)(control group). All measurements of postural status
were taken using the Napoleon Wolanski method. The analyses showed that the situation in the
control group is rather worrisome, where postural status is very poor. The weakest links are the
abdominal muscles, but also the head, shoulders, shoulder blades, spine, feet and legs.
Keywords: postural status, pupils, physical activity, sport
A good posture is all about optimal relations among all segments of the human body,
which are fairly stable for the most part (Sabo, 2006; Purenovi„, 2007). The optimal posture
represents a biological value of the human kind, passed on by phylogenetic development. It can
be defined as an activity using the least amount of energy required for normal functioning of the
internal organs and maintenance of psychomotor abilities.
Principles of the basic body posture are very complex and are based on conditioned and
unconditioned reflexes. Since the former are dependent on external influences, body posture is
more subject to individual differences. Essentially, basic posture seems to be mostly genetic,
however it can also be altered by environmental factors like illness, age, level of physical
activity, living conditions, physical environment, eating habits, and many others.
Corresponding author. ÑJovan Jovanovi„ Zmajì, Elementary School. äkolska 3, 21203 Sremska Kamenica, Serbia.
© 2010 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
G. Tripunovi
In order to maintain a normal, steady, upright standing position, both active and passive
forces of the locomotor system are engaged, specifically muscles, ligaments and bones. The
greatest of all external forces disturbing the optimal posture is gravity. Active forces are
produced by muscles, whereas the passive ones come from ligaments, bones and joints. In any
activity, all the forces affecting body posture must be in balance. Any disturbance inside this
system can cause an imbalance within the individual segments of the body. This imbalance
mostly occurs at the expense of the active portion of these forces, ie. muscles, which may
succumb due to fatigue, their poor conditioning, or disease. The consequence of this muscle
weakness is an increased strain on the passive portion of the locomotor system, which in turn
begins to deteriorate over time, adapting to a completely new role (Uli„, 1997).
A fundamental condition for establishing and maintaining a normal standing posture is a
well-balanced relationship between internal and external forces. These forces are the same in
magnitude, but act in opposite directions. When there is an imbalance, a good posture has been
Biological development of children is characterized by certain natural laws.
Psychological and physical development is an ongoing process, both gradual and irregular, with
specific characteristics for each period. In other words, child growth and development are
normally continuing processes, although certain anatomical, physiological and psychological
segments do not develop at the same rate or end at the same time (Rowlands et al.,1999).
Individual differences are present at any point during development. Besides exogenic and
endogenic factors, there are many other factors affecting these differences (Nevill et al., 1998).
The period between 8-10 y of age is characterized by fairly steady, slowed gains in body
height (Ruiz et al.,
2006). Bone growth and calcification are ongoing, while physiological
curvatures of the spine are already being fixed. Even though the muscular system is evidently
becoming stronger, it is not fully developed. At the end of this period, soft muscle tissue
accounts for about 30% of the total body weight.
During this stage, it is necessary to assess body posture and check for potential
deformities in order to intervene and correct them in time.
The purpose of this study was to investigate and determine the differences, if any, in
postural status between young athletes and the untrained children of the same age.
The sample was derived from Novi Sadís elementary schoolsí boys, as well as from those
participating in many sports clubs in the Novi Sad municipality. They were 8-10 y old (± 6
Participants were assigned into one of the following three groups:
A) pupils participating in individual sports (N=50),
B) pupils participating in team sports (N=51),
C) pupils attending physical education (PE) classes only (N=50)
All participants had to be clinically healthy and free of any aberrations.
Pupilsí postural status and level of physical activity
In order to assess the overall postural status, the following parameters were looked at: 1)
Head posture; 2) Shoulder posture; 3) Shoulder blade posture; 4) Thorax development status; 5)
Digression of the spine in the frontal plane or Spine posture; 6) Abdomen posture; 7) Leg shape;
and 8) Foot arch.
The measurements of the postural status of children were taken according to the
Napoleon Wolanski method (Radisavljevi„, 2001). Three marks (0-2) were used: ëzeroí (0) was
given when all the parameters were in normal, expected relations. ëOneí (1) represented a certain
digression from a normal status of body posture, which could be corrected with appropriate
exercises (the active portion of the locomotor system was weakened in some way), and ëtwoí
was given in more severe cases with significant digression from the normal status of body
posture (structural changes of the locomotor system).
During examination, children were barefoot and in their underwear. The observations
were done from the distance of about 2 m, and were recorded in a set order. It was ensured that
measurement conditions were the same for all participants during the morning hours, in well-lit
and spacious rooms, at an optimal room temperature, and the same people taking the
The results were analyzed by the frequency of appearance by categories of postural
status, and were expressed both numerically and in percentages. Differences between groups
calculated using Chi-square test.
Table 1 shows the results for Head posture, Shoulder posture, Shoulder blade posture,
Thorax development status, Spine shape and posture, Abdomen posture, Leg shape, and Foot
Table 2 shows that there is a statistically significant difference among tested groups of
pupils in variables shoulder posture, abdomen posture, leg shape and foot arch at the level of
significance p ≤ 0.01. Whereas with a variables Spine shape and posture, this difference is at the
level of significance p ≤ 0.05, respectively.
By analyzing results of the frequencies in head posture, it can be noticed that the best
group, with greatest percentage in normal posture was found in group A (50%), followed by
group C (46%) and group B (37%). In addition, results of significant digression from normal
head posture were found in group C (control group) and B with frequency of 4%, whereas group
A had 2%.
The results in shoulder posture were as follows: 80% in group A and 74.5% in group B of
the boys with an optimal shoulder status. Only 46% of the boys in control group had good
shoulder posture and 4% of significant digression from optimal posture.
G. Tripunovi
Table 1
Postural status of 8-10 year-old pupils participating in individual sports (A), team sports (B),
and those not participating in any sports (C.
Frequency (%)
25 (50%) 19 (37.3%)
23 (46%)
24 (48%) 30 (58.8%)
25 (50%)
Head posture
1 (2%)
2 (3.9%)
2 (4%)
Total 50 (100%)
51 (100%) 50 (100%)
40 (80%) 38 (74.5%)
23 (46%)
10 (20%) 13 (25.5%)
25 (50%)
Shoulder posture
2 (4%)
Total 50 (100%)
51 (100%) 50 (100%)
45 (90%) 44 (86.3%)
43 (86%)
5 (10%)
7 (13.7%)
5 (10%)
Thorax shape
2 (4%)
Total 50 (100%)
51 (100%) 50 (100%)
31 (62%)
25 (49%)
20 (40%)
Shoulder blade
17 (34%)
24 (47.1)
29 (58%)
2 (4%)
2 (3.9%)
1 (2%)
Total 50 (100%)
51 (100%) 50 (100%)
44 (88%) 40 (78.4%)
31 (62%)
Spine shape and
6 (12%) 11 (21.6%)
18 (36%)
1 (2%)
Total 50 (100%)
51 (100%) 50 (100%)
17 (34%) 10 (19.6%)
3 (6%)
25 (50%) 19 (37.3%)
31 (62%)
8 (16%) 22 (43.1%)
16 (32%)
Total 50 (100%)
51 (100%) 50 (100%)
44 (88%) 42 (82.4%)
26 (52%)
6 (12%)
9 (17.6%)
14 (28%)
Leg shape
10 (20%)
Total 50 (100%)
51 (100%) 50 (100%)
22 (44%) 31 (60.8%)
8 (16%)
28 (56%) 20 (39.2%)
39 (78%)
Foot arch
3 (6%)
Total 50 (100%)
51 (100%) 50 (100%)
A normal thorax shape and posture was found in 90% of the boys in group A, 86.3% in
group B and 86% in control group, whereas 4% of significant digression in posture was found in
control group.
The results for Shoulder-blade posture in groups shows that in all groups highest
percentage was with normal posture, but there was found within all three groups small
percentage (around 4%) of significant structural changes due to a scoliotic body posture.
Pupilsí postural status and level of physical activity
Table 2
Differences in postural status between groups of pupils
Body segment
Head posture
2.00 (4)
Shoulder posture
17.069 (4)
Thorax shape
4.514 (4)
Shoulder blade
5.933 (4)
Spine shape and
10.590 (4)
Abdomen posture
19.143 (4)
Leg shape
28.693 (4)
Foot arch
25.460 (4)
A normal spine posture was had by 88% in group A, 78.4% in group B and 62% in
control group C. A significant digression with severe structural changes taking place had 2% in
control group.
Only 34% of the boys in group A had a normal abdomen posture, 50% had a slight
digression from normal abdomen posture, and even 16% had a significant digression. It appears
that the underlying cause of this finding may as well be a weakened active portion of the
locomotor apparatus or musculature, which can have result in a lordotic body posture. The
situation in groups B and C was similar, with high percentage of a significant digression from
normal abdomen posture.
The situation with leg-shape posture, in group A and B, high percentage of normal
posture were found (over 80%), while the rest of the subjects had slight alterations in posture that
could be corrected by strengthening the stabilizing muscles, especially in the knee joint and
ankle. In group C, 52% had a normal leg shape, 28% were with a slight digression, and even
20% had a significant digression from normal leg shape. This can certainly be attributed to a
poor level of physical activity and the result in weakening of the stabilizing musculature and
ligaments of the lower leg joints.
Finally, highest percentage of the participants in group A and B showed a normal foot
arch, and the remaining percentage had a slight digression from a normal postural status. None
had a significant digression. A dire situation was found in group C where only 16% of the boys
had a normal foot arch, 78% had a slight digression, and 6% (3 boys) had a significant digression
from normal foot arch. Feet are always the first to relent as a direct consequence of insufficient
physical activity, poor diet and obesity.
From all these analyses, it can be inferred that the most sensitive areas in 8-10 year-old
boys participating in individual sports are the abdominal section, scapular area and feet. In these
regions of the body there was the greatest number of pupils with a slight digression from a
normal postural status.
G. Tripunovi
One can also observe that the situation with boys participating in team sports is worse
than with those involved in individual sports. There were more compromised regions, with a
poor postural status in the abdominal section, the head, scapular region, and the feet.
Very disturbing results compared to the other two groups, were found in group C with
untrained boys participating only in PE classes at school. In this group, the overall postural status
was very poor. The weakest links seem to be the abdominal region, the head, shoulders, scapular
area, spine, feet and legs. These findings suggest that further analysis looking at the root-cause of
this phenomenon is needed in order to make corrections, and, more importantly, provide
meaningful and timely prevention strategies to the problem.
This study was run on 151 boys aged 8-10 years, divided into three groups: trained ñ
individual sports, trained ñ team sports, and untrained. Eight variables were measured for the
assessment of the overall postural status, with the purpose of examining the differences between
the trained vs. the untrained pupils of the same age.
All measurements were taken by the Napoleon Wolanski method. The analyses of the
results led us to the following conclusions:
The most sensitive areas in 8-10 year-old boys participating in individual sports are the
abdominal section, scapular area and feet. In these regions of the body there were the most
pupils with a slight digression from a a normal postural status.
A worse situation was seen with boys participating in team sports than with those involved
in individual sports. There were more compromised regions, with a poor postural status
found in the abdominal section, the head, scapular region, and the feet.
The worst results were found in the control group, where there was a very worrying
situation. The weakest links were the abdominal region, the head, shoulders, scapular area,
spine, feet and legs.
After starting school, spontaneous movement activities in children are reduced. In addition
to a prolonged time spent in a sitting position, whether in school or at home, the musculoskeletal
system is negatively influenced by ergonomically inadequate school furniture, mental stress, and
in particular lack of overall movement (Filipova et al., 2003). The attitude of parents toward
movement activities appears to be very important for the creation of positive relationships of
children with respect to sports and exercise. Education (Van de Mheen et al., 1998; Groholt et
2003) is an important factor influencing the state of health. Educated people have better
attitudes toward healthy lifestyles, including exercise. A gradually developing muscular
imbalance initially manifests as a functional disorder with characteristic signs of changing body
profile, which is followed by structural changes, first affecting the soft tissues
cartilage, and muscles) and later the bony and joint structures. The latter is known as fixed
postural abnormality. Unlike fixed abnormalities, poor posture in a functional disorder phase can
be willingly corrected by active muscle effort (Groholt et al., 2003) and may be influenced by
regular and special exercise (Filipova et al., 2005).
This work provides evidence that deficit of movement activities is associated with the
development of poor posture. Interventional measures, which should be implemented on a large-
scale basis, especially as part of school physical education. There is a lack of guidance and the
cooperation between health care professionals and educators regarding how best to implement
physical activities. The results of our study can be used as evidence with officials in the area of
prevention, to support efforts to improve the health of our school children and to reduce the risk
of postural damage to childrenís health.
Pupilsí postural status and level of physical activity
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Submitted 12 April, 2011
Accepted 15 June, 2011