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Human position refers to a position of a body. It can also be called a person's attitude or bearing.

Erect posture of Gymnast Nadia Comaneci.

Basic human positions

Main article: Human positions

While not moving, a human can be in one of the following main positions.

  • standing; requires sufficient headroom, e.g. it is not possible in a regular car; one can stand freely or lean against a support (a wall, a pole, etc.);
  • sitting; requires a more or less horizontal structure, e.g. a chair or the ground; special ways of sitting are with the legs horizontal, and in an inclined seat; while on a chair the shins are usually vertical, on the ground the shins may be crossed in the lotus position or go horizontally underneath the thigh in a seiza.
  • kneeling
  • lying; requires sufficient space in one direction; often done on a bed or couch;
  • on all fours;
  • hanging.
  • Squatting position

It is also possible to classify these main positions into further detail, as well as to consider intermediate forms.

For sitting and lying, softness and cleanliness are relevant factors. Sometimes paper, cardboard or cloth is used when sitting or lying on the ground, a dirty bench, etc. Sitting or lying in the grass or on a sandy beach is comfortably soft.

For sleeping and sexual activities one often lies down. For most activities which do not involve moving, sitting is usually preferred, e.g. reading, watching television, or using a computer; this also applies for moving in a vehicle.

Standing and squatting are mainly done when there are not enough seats, e.g. in a public transport vehicle, a train station, a bus stop, a waiting room; whether people will sit depends on the availability of other places to sit (including enough space on the floor), how inventive one is, how conventional, how dirty these places are, how dirty one is willing to become, and whether paper etc. is available to sit on (these things also apply when there are seats, but dirty).

Availability of seats is sometimes somewhat subjective, e.g. whether an additional person fits on a bench. This depends also on shyness and feelings about proximity.

Standing in a moving vehicle is less stable than sitting and usually requires holding on to something to absorb accelerations (going faster and slower and making turns); for this poles and/or handles are often fitted. Squatting may be difficult because of being too unstable, unless it is possible to lean against something.

Optimal human positions and balanced erect posture

Posture is the emergent alignment of the body that remains relatively constant in its underlying structure and unity across various forms of human positions. It refers to the unconscious and stable structural disposition of the body framework attained over a long period of continuous body movements and patterns.

These stable postures attained over time is a result of one's lifestyle and orientation. Over time people come to attain an average posture, bad or inefficient posture, and sometimes a good or effective posture. The quality or effectiveness of posture is related to the proportionate structure of the body framework and the optimal balance of the body.

A bad posture or slouching posture is unable to optimally distribute weight across the body framework, and hence is ineffective. An average posture is able to maintain distribution of weight and form but does not attain optimal form and maintenance. A good posture or an erect posture is able to completely and optimally attain balance and proportion of the body mass and framework. A well proportioned erect posture optimizes breathing and affects the circulation of bodily fluids. An erect posture is therefore most desirable and highly effective for the body structure and proportion.

Balanced posture of a figure skater.

An erect posture or well-proportioned posture involves various elements of the body and its co-ordination. It includes optimally unfurling the spine until the lower back curves inside while holding the chest raised high without straining breathing. The head assumes an optimal position while keeping the chin parallel to the ground. In an erect posture, the shoulders are very straight and pulled back. This acts like the yardarm (horizontal spar on the mast of a ship). Hence while bending, even though the spine would curve, the posture still remains erect because the shoulders remain straight and pulled back maintaining the body proportion and balance. The optimal structural alignment of the body leads to a straight back. This structural alignment consolidates over a long span of time leading to a well balanced posture that becomes a natural disposition.

In posturology, posture is elaboration and active preservation of the configuration of the various segments of the body in the space; it expresses the way body faces the stimulation of the outside world and gets ready to react to it.

The configuration of the various segments of the body in space is elaborated on a mode rather phasic but not exclusively, it is maintained on a rather tonic mode but not exclusively.

Human positions and Posture in society

A well balanced or erect posture is considered as an integral part of physical attractiveness. In most cultures an erect posture is considered as a mark of a well balanced and adaptable personality. Young boys and men are expected to have erect postures. Military regimentation and several boarding schools enforce regimen on young people to have an erect posture, the consequence often being what is termed a military posture or over-correct posture which may be considered excessively erect with poor balance resulting from excessive tension in the back muscles. Women consider erect posture as one of the most salient features of attractiveness in men. This appeal for erectness also makes women have erect postures themselves. It is also observed that significantly more women have erect postures than men. Other communities stress posture as an integral part of their lifestyle. The Nuba people in Africa are also famed for their posture, which is a product of their natural lifestyle. Their beauty was documented by the Motion Picture director Leni Riefenstahl. Across societies, various stylizations of human positions and postures are set for specific occasions, which include etiquette and ceremonial conducts.

Posture as body language

see Posture (psychology)

Posture in animals

  • Defensive postures
  • Dominance postures
  • Lordosis behavior
  • Submissive postures
  • Threat posture

Postural disorders

See also

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