Pilates Improves Posture

Bad Posture? Pilates Improves Posture

Bad posture is readily recognized. Stiff low back. Stooped and rounded shoulders. Protruding abdominal muscles. All contribute to aching joints and painful muscles.

Three cues for physical performance can greatly improve posture in the majority of clients: 1. Lengthen the spine; 2. Glide the shoulders down your back; and, 3. Strengthen the abs by connecting ribs to hips. To “personalize” your cues, get a formal Postural Analysis to assess your own posture. A static Postural Analysis will allow you to identify postural imbalances and design an efficient Pilates exercise program to help you look and feel better.

It starts with alignment

It starts by looking at the alignment of your body from head to toe from a side view. The major joints –ankle, knee, hip and shoulder-need to be in proper position relative to the spine and to each other. Flexed or hyper-extended joints cause stress on the affected joint and on the spine.

Next, the shape of the spine and pelvis are assessed. The presence or absence of the natural curve of the cervical (neck), thoracic (upper back), and lumbar (low back) spine is noted. The ability of the spine to flex and extend with ease is assessed as you roll down toward the floor and return to a standing position. The pelvis may be tilted forward (excessive curve in the low back) or backward (flat low back) and correlates with specific muscle imbalances.

Taking a closer look.

From the front view, the ankles and knees may bow in or out creating stress in the joints. The pelvis and shoulders may be uneven, tilted or rotated.

From the rear view, the position of the shoulder blades is noted. The scapula (shoulder blades) can be out of position in a variety of ways-protracted/retracted, elevated/depressed, tipped, winged and/or rotated. All imbalances that affect the ability to stabilize the shoulders during movement.

Your postural analysis is a good starting point for designing an effective Pilates program and monitoring progress. For instance, a flat low back is often associated with shortened hamstrings predisposing to hamstring injury and low back stiffness. Certain Pilates exercises target the hamstrings for lengthening and strengthening.

Rounded shoulders (kyphosis) and a hyperextended low back (lordosis) are associated with weak neck flexors, weak upper back muscles and weak external obliques. Exercises are prescribed to strengthen the upper back muscles and abdominals and elongate the spine.

Remember, faulty alignment results in undue stress on bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. Correct your posture and improve the way you look and feel. Restore posture. Relieve pain. And improve well being.

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