Pilates for Posture.
Is Pilates exactly what you need to correct years of poor posture?
“Sit up straight!”
“Pull your shoulders back!”
“Lift your head up!”
We have heard it all before, but is it really that important to have good posture and what exactly is good posture?
Our Osteopath and Clinical Pilates extraordinaire, Dr Ashlea Crupi, gives you the low down on Pilates for Posture.
In this blog, you will learn what is good posture and why you NEED to be concerned about your posture now, why Pilates has the best reputation for helping to correct bad posture and the best Pilates exercises that you can do at home to improve your posture.
Posture can have a significant effect on your health and how you feel about yourself. It has been linked to many health conditions such as back and neck pain, shoulder pain, joint arthritis, and even your psychology such as confidence levels and depression.
Why is Posture a problem today for so many people?
Our bodies were designed to move.
Not sit in front of computers all day.
From the first thing in the morning to getting ready for bed, we spend an awful lot of time with our head down looking at screens, hunched over computers and slouched into desks.
This poor posture takes its toll on our bodies and causes long-term physical problems that could be avoided if we were more mindful of our sitting habits and found opportunities to move throughout the day. But we get it – for many people, this is their job, so it does make it tough to move regularly throughout the day. And, even for teens and young adults studying – it’s hard to escape sitting, sitting and more sitting. So what do we do about all this sitting that leads to poor posture? PILATES
Pilates offers a way to help correct your posture and improve it!
Here are some tips from pilates professionals you can use as well as some common Pilates exercises that will help build good postural habits.
Everyone’s definition of good posture is different. Some people think it is to have your spine straight, to have your shoulders as far back as possible, or that it is the answer to being pain-free.
What actually is good posture?
Good posture is achieved when the spine, neck and shoulders are positioned in a way that allows you to be balanced. It also helps with your breathing as it prevents unnecessary tension on your diaphragm muscle. This can help prevent respiratory problems such as asthma or sleep apnea, as well as many other health issues. Being pain-free is an added bonus of having good posture because it reduces stress on joints throughout the body while improving circulation by getting rid of excess fluids resulting from gravity pushing down onto them all day long. Good posture also makes you look taller and more confident.
Despite what some people think, your spine naturally has curves in it; it is not designed to be completely straight. This is so that the weight between each bone in your spine (vertebrae) is evenly distributed, so to not increase pressure on one joint more than another.
It is also designed to move, we are not made to be sedentary. We seem to be trending towards being more still and moving a whole lot less, whether it be sitting at a desk more for work, or having a streaming binge of an evening or weekend.
As health professionals, a high number of people that we see are coming because of a neck or back complaint, and it is usually due to this.
For good posture, your neck and lower back should have a natural forward curve in them, and your mid-back along with the sacrum’s shape should have a natural backward curve.
Good posture should also include shoulders that are relaxed and open, feet facing forwards with knees in a straight line from the centre of the front of the hip to the second toe, and your pelvis over the centre of your feet.
Check out how to set up an ideal and ergonomic workspace for good posture and to reduce pain HERE!
If you could draw a straight line through the centre of your body from the front or back, there should be symmetry when comparing sides. The image below perfectly outlines good posture and what we are looking for to find it, or its deviations.
Any changes to this, whether it be from tight hips, rounded shoulders, or an injury, can cause these spinal curves to change or the body to move away from this plumb-line, altering the load on the surrounding tissues, and possibly leading to injury or pain.
It is not forever though! As mentioned earlier, the body is designed to move, and doing just that can help to remedy any changes you may currently have.
Correcting those tight hips, or rounded shoulders, or even just generally getting the spine moving, can help to restore function and get you on the road to better posture.
We recommend getting up, moving around and stretching every 45 mins to an hour. A sneaky way to make sure you do this, if you’re like many of us who get too focussed on work, is to keep a water bottle at your desk so you drink water and then have to get up and move to go to the loo! Two birds one stone, hydration plus movement!
How can Pilates help you to achieve better posture?
And we may be biased but our all-time favourite long term solution for correcting posture, pain and reducing the chance of injury is Pilates.
And here’s why…..
Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates, whose main philosophy was to create exercises specific to the person in front of him. It was never one size fits all; he would even create whole new pieces of equipment for clients if he had to!
We have since adapted and generalised the equipment a little more, but the principle should be the same: work with the person in front of you. This means whatever is straying from the plumb-line for your posture is something you should specifically be working on.
Why is Pilates the best exercise for posture?
Pilates teaches you how to use your body efficiently. This means that all the muscles around any muscle imbalance or weakness in the body will be strengthened, and so correcting posture is a natural consequence of doing this exercise regime. It also stimulates blood flow which can help with pain relief- something we’ve seen first hand!
So what are some best pilates exercises for posture? The best pilates exercises for fixing bad posture involve strengthening those stabilizing muscles at the back of our core as well as lengthening the spine (by keeping it nice and tall).
Can you correct years of bad posture with pilates?
The short answer is that it is never too late to start correcting your posture. If you are in your teens to early 30’s, you could correct your posture very quickly by becoming aware of your postural habits and implementing some posture correction exercises such as the ones below. As you become older, from 40’sonwards you can still achieve the same thing but it will take longer to see the results, but you will still get there. Most of the changes are muscle and tendon changes that can be reversed. As you get into your 60’s, you can get more structural changes to your joints and discs which cannot be reversed. So the message is clear – where you are along this spectrum – start now.
If you’ve been sitting with poor posture for years then your muscles may be used to being in that position so make sure you take the time to stretch them out properly before doing any exercises!
Pilates is a great exercise regime as it not only strengthens and lengthens every muscle group but also helps correct postural problems such as back pain because of its emphasis on proper alignment.
What exactly is Pilates and what is the difference between Clinical Pilates and pilates?
Pilates is a fitness routine that combines physical exercises with mental awareness to help you reach your full potential. It is often called the “intelligent exercise” for your body. Every movement is mindful, you are creating awareness and fluidity of movement that harnesses the body natural beauty. All too often due to our repetitive and sedentary lifestyles, our body adapts and becomes dysfunctional leading to muscle imbalances and poor movement and poor posture. A pilates workout helps you restore natural balance, flexibility and strength. Pilates is different from clinical pilates because it doesn’t require any equipment or machines. It can be done anywhere at any time with no special skills required!
Pilates is a collection of exercises on heaps of different equipment to assist or challenge people depending on their body. In the clinical setting, small class sizes and tailored programs mean you are able to work on specifically what your body needs and get the help and attention to make sure you are doing exercises well.
It also involves learning about your body; where your strengths are, what needs a little more work, and just generally where your body is in space. This learning is important to understand your body and how it moves, and how to keep it healthy.
There are two types of Pilates: clinical pilates and traditional pilates, both offer the same great benefits but each has its own unique exercise techniques!
Clinical Pilates is performed by trained health care practitioners such as physiotherapists and osteopaths with advanced training in Pilates. Clinical Pilates is ideal for treating injury and back pain.
The exercises in this form of pilates are more low-intensity, but they can also be extremely challenging! The movements involve a lot of stretching to help lengthen the spine and core muscles which will give you better posture long term.
The benefit of clinical pilates for posture is that you have a trained professional who can assess, diagnoses and give you the best plan to improve your posture and any pain associated with it. Additionally, your osteopath and physio can give you treatment that may assist in improving your posture.
Clinical Pilates classes are usually only 4 people and one pilates instructor – this way you can be assured that your posture is correct when you are doing your exercises so you are actually strengthening your muscle around the perfect posture
What are the best Pilates for posture exercises to help correct posture?
The spine twist in Pilates engages both the upper spine and lower back to help you elongate your spinal column by encouraging a maintained pelvic tilt and engaged abdominal muscles. It also drops shoulders while relaxing the belly.
Reverse plank bridge
This is a great exercise for desk workers, as it lengthens and straightens the lower back, and corrects rounded shoulders. As the chest opens up, the shoulders round back and the spine aligns into place.
A simple one but a good one to wake up those gluteal muscles ( butt) that often switch off when you sit for so long. AS you come down, you articulate or mobilise the spine so get more movement in the joints.
are great Pilates exercise for your upper back.
These exercises are a great place to start to improve your posture with Pilates. Mat based exercises are easy to do at home but you may soon find that you need some more challenge. In clinical pilates, we use Pilates exercise machines to supercharge the exercises so they are more effective. Combined with experienced instructors who can tailor a program to exactly what you need means you get faster and better results.
If you want to get started on Pilates for posture, see our Clinical Pilates Introductory Specials[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]