Background: Little information on quantitative sagittal plane postural alignment and evolution in children exists. The objectives of this study are to document the evolution of upright, static, sagittal posture in children and to identify possible critical phases of postural evolution (maturation).
Methods: A total of 1084 children (aged 4-12 years) received a sagittal postural evaluation with the Biotonix postural analysis system. Data were retrieved from the Biotonix internet database. Children were stratified and analyzed by years of age with n = 36 in the youngest age group (4 years) and n = 184 in the oldest age group (12 years). Children were analyzed in the neutral upright posture. Variables measured were sagittal translation distances in millimeters of: the knee relative to the tarsal joint, pelvis relative to the tarsal joint, shoulder relative to the tarsal joint, and head relative to the tarsal joint. A two-way factorial ANOVA was used to test for age and gender effects on posture, while polynomial trend analyses were used to test for increased postural displacements with years of age.
Results: Two-way ANOVA yielded a significant main effect of age for all 4 sagittal postural variables and gender for all variables except head translation. No age x gender interaction was found. Polynomial trend analyses showed a significant linear association between child age and all four postural variables: anterior head translation (p < 0.001), anterior shoulder translation (p < 0.001), anterior pelvic translation (p < 0.001), anterior knee translation (p < 0.001). Between the ages of 11 and 12 years, for anterior knee translation, T-test post hoc analysis revealed only one significant rough break in the continuity of the age related trend.
Conclusion: A significant linear trend for increasing sagittal plane postural translations of the head, thorax, pelvis, and knee was found as children age from 4 years to 12 years. These postural translations provide preliminary normative data for the alignment of a child's sagittal plane posture.