Are you a sloucher? Do you have a tendency to sleep on your stomach? You may find that these things heavily impact your natural posture. Throw in a desk job, a lot of sitting, and even a little bit of aging, and it’s a recipe for disaster on your body! You could already be feeling the effects without even realizing it!
Posture is not fixed overnight, nor is it made worse overnight. But if you’re feeling these signs, it could be time to fix it. Pilates and good posture go hand-in-hand, so here’s what to watch out for and how to feel better inside and out.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Let’s start in the middle. When your pelvis rotates forward (anterior pelvic tilt) it can cause your spine to curve excessively. As well as wreaking havoc on your posture, this can be a common cause of low back, hip, and knee pain.
Common for those in desk jobs, the main sign of anterior pelvic tilt to watch for is having tight hip flexor muscles, along with weak glutes and abs. Your hips may also involuntarily twist when trying to perform slow motions due to those tight, stiff muscles.
How Pilates can help
Focusing on exercises like bridge, pelvic tilt, and squats can correct your APT and help you work towards better posture. These exercises also improve strength, flexibility, and the balance load on your hips, which in turn strengthen your anterior abdominals. What does that mean for the outside? You’ll stand taller and make your belly flatter!
If your shoulders hunch over when standing or sitting, this can be a cause of shoulder or mid-back pain. This is common among computer workers and tall people, who bend down to interact with the rest of us! It’s quite easy to notice if you’re doing it, but if not corrected, can have a serious impact on your health as you get older.
How Pilates can help
Pilates exercises that stabilize your scapulae are helpful to create a strong foundation in your upper body. For example, exercises like standing rows, modified planks or push-ups, and shoulder isolation all address scapulae strength.
Ultimately, a stronger upper body can help relieve pain, assist in rehabilitating shoulder injuries, and make you stand ‘prouder’. This gives you the chance to adopt natural ‘power poses’ that can actually boost your confidence throughout the day!
Forward Head Posture (FHP)
Also known as ‘poking chin,’ FHP is a display of muscle imbalance and weakness in your cervical spine. It most often displays as neck pain, but can also give the impression of looking ‘tense’. This will have a large impact on your overall posture and can be quite pronounced if left unchecked.
How Pilates can help
A 2016 study showed that there was excellent support for treating FHP with Pilates, particularly for FHP caused by repetitive strain, like sitting at a desk. In treating FHP with Pilates, the aim is to bring the head back in line with the spine and give you a straighter stance. But, as with all parts of the body, it’s not so simple!
When you have your neck tilted forward it tightens the pectorals in your chest and the upper trapezius in your back. So, it’s all about finding the right balance to pull your neck back in line and allow your upper thoracic spine to move freely. A common exercise for FHP is a prone neck lift or exercises that lengthen and strengthen the neck flexors.
Putting It All Together
Ultimately, when it comes to getting good posture, it’s a lot more complicated than we think. Improving your posture can have such a profound impact and can even improve your mental health. After all, the less tension and stress in the body, the less in the mind.
With such a complex system as the human body, it’s important you consult with a professional before starting an exercise regimen. If you want a full postural analysis and structured routine that can help you work towards good posture, schedule a private evaluation session at Pilates in the Grove.
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