Just looking at someone you can get a whole bunch of information about them. Training the eye to see the problems before they even tell you about them freaks people out! But it's so helpful when treating someone to focus on what the body is telling you. Pain is tricky, it can move and spread so it's not always in the area the problem is.
How's their posture?
Are they symmetrical?
Visible difference in muscle size from side to side?
Not many people are symmetrical, weaknesses in the body build up over time from over or uneven use. Think how much you use your dominant side (right or left handed) and how this will cause more developed musculature on that side, causing asymmetry. Overtime i'm hoping I will be able to see these differences in symmetry and then relate them to the problem or a symptom they are experiencing. Noticing asymmetry could be really obvious or only minor. Firstly you notice the relative positions of our natural landmarks, how symmetrical are the ears, eyes, jaw, shoulders, hands, hips and knees. How are people walking or standing? If there is obvious muscle size differences this could be pulling more so on certain joints and causing changes to bone position. Normal posture is usually no head tilt, level shoulders, hips and knees. Imagine a piece of string above your head with a small weight on it at the end, this piece of string should go through the centre of your ear, shoulder, hip and knee, ending in front of the ankle, check out the image for an idea of how your posture should be.
Another good assessment tool is range of movement, each individual has their own range of movement that is normal to them. I have hyper-mobility in a couple of joints, my right knee just loves to bend backwards. This is normal for me and so cannot be "corrected", instead I need to be aware of the problems this can cause and be careful with it. I don't go running because it causes too much strain on my knee, but cycling is great for it! Knowing whats "normal" for you means you can take care of yourself better! Once you know whats "normal" for that person then you can assess the joint in that context and feel/hear what the joint is doing.
Similar to last week (palpation/touch) texture of tissues can also be an assessment tool. Soft tissue is felt to compare the tone and texture. Something i've started using and trying to develop is the skin drag, this crazy tool is amazing..... simply using a butterfly landing light touch you run your fingers down the skin, you can feel the differences in the skin and the underlying muscle sheaths!! (Need some serious practising in this). Loading into tissue with different depths again gives feedback about what is happening in the tissue below. Temperature of tissue can also indicate inflammation or circulation in those areas.
Looking, moving limbs and palpating (touching remember) gently can provide a mammoth amount of information on what is going on with an individual before you've even started treating them.
Check yourself out..... are your ears, shoulders, hips level? Does your muscle tone look different on each side? How are your arms and legs moving in comparison with each other? You can find out stuff about yourself just using these simple tools.