From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Posture Evaluation

Dan MacLeod, CPE, MA, MPH

Posture is characterized by measuring the angular relationship between various body links and a fixed frame of reference, usually another intuitive major body segment. The unit of measurement is primarily degrees of the angle, but sometimes descriptive terms are used, i.e. “bent 1/2 of way.” Identifying the duration of the specific postures is also important.

Posture can be measured precisely using video and software-based methods. However, for most practical purposes, visual estimates in a broad, intuitive range is sufficient. Simple checklists can be used and/or the posture estimates converted to a scoring system.

The following are standard demarcations between different postures. Motions and positions held within ±15°–20° of the optimal position are generally acceptable. Human performance deteriorates with the increase in angle, probably exponentially.

Lower back

Posture1Back Posture2Back Posture3Back
Angle of torso relative to the upper legs
Applies equally to lateral and backward bending
Angle of shoulders relative to the hips


Posture7Neck Posture8Neck Posture9Neck
Angle of head relative to torso
Applies equally to lateral and backward bending
Angle of head relative to shoulders


Posture6Arm Posture5Arm
Raising arms
Angle of upper arm to torso
Lateral arm orientation
Also angle of upper arm to torso
Optimal arm position is 15°, not 0°

Wrist and hand

Posture10Wrist Posture11Wrist
Angle of hand relative to the forearm
Applies to any direction
“Ulnar” bend
(Common concern)
Away from thumb, towards ulnar forearm bone