[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 September, 2004, 02:15 GMT 03:15 UK
Perfect David 'a physical wreck'
Less than perfect posture?
Michelangelo's David, far from representing the epitome of male physical perfection, was a wreck, according to a posture expert.

An analysis by pilates pioneer Alan Herdman found David would have had a bad lower back, a weak hip and ankles, hammer toes and poor flexibility.

Mr Herdman said that the beautiful young man in the statue in fact has very poor posture.

This year is the 500th anniversary of the creation of the statue.

In the privacy of your own bathroom, you try standing in that position and see how it feels: not good.
Alan Herdman
The 17-foot tall marble figure is not just the most famous statue in the world but also an icon of male beauty and physical perfection.

But Mr Herdman said: "Michelangelo may have been an artistic genius but he clearly knew far less than we do today about posture and the workings of the human body.

"If you look at him, David is sitting into one hip. He will have a weakness in one hip and suffer from lower back weakness and pain.

"His pelvis is all wrong. It is thrust forward and pushing into one hip. The right side isn't straight.

"In the privacy of your own bathroom, you try standing in that position and see how it feels: not good."

More problems

Mr Herdman also said a close look at the statue reveals that David has hammer toes.

"In other words, they are a bit clawed, with the result that the muscles in the front of the left foot must be weak.

"If you look at the rear view, you will find that that the right buttocks are not be as strong as they should be because he is sitting into the hips, and the weight distribution is all wrong."

Mr Herdman did concede that David has a "good pair of legs."

However, he said his ankles were also weak - as art restorers have recently found.

"As for flexibility, I would say that he has all the flexibility of a 500 year-old, 17ft marble statue."

A recent study of David has also suggested that he had a serious squint.

The computer scientist who made the discovery suspects that the diverging eyes were a deliberate ploy by Michelangelo to enhance the figure's appearance when viewed from either side.

Mr Herdman is credited with introducing Pilates to Britain 34 years ago and remains a world authority on the exercise technique.

Art experts defended the statue, arguing that David is standing in a recognised artistic pose called "contra-posto".

This involves the hips being deliberately posed at an angle opposite to the shoulders to create an interesting pose.

More focus needed on flexibility
06 May 04  |  Health
Bad back link to driving posture
10 Oct 03  |  Health

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific