Pilates & Therapeutic Exercise

Have you ever thought how confident people carry themselves? Contrast that with someone lacking in self esteem – drooping slouching shoulders and forward head position.

Not only does poor posture affect how we present ourselves to others, it also has a negative impact on our own bodies. As we return to routine with summer holidays over, this is a good time to change. How about the idea of making oneself ‘supermodel tall’ by correcting posture! Here’s some tips for appraising your own posture.

Firstly in standing, with feet roughly hip distance apart and toes slightly turned outwards, think of each foot as a triangle formed by your big toe, little toe and heel. Try and place your body weight in the centre of the triangle.

Now the knees. Ideally there should be a little bit of softness in the knee region in upright standing.

Moving up to the pelvis and lower back area. Stand sideways beside a mirror and notice your lower back curve. Is it very deep or markedly flat? Too much curve can stress the small joints at the back of your vertebrae. Too little curve places undue stress on the intervertebral discs. Ideal alignment is half way between the two, a position known as the neutral spine position in Pilates.

Many Chartered Physiotherapists recommend Pilates as a scientifically validated form of exercise to assist in improving body awareness and correcting posture.

One way we teach this in Pilates is to imagine the pelvis as a bucket full of water. Place your hands along the rim of the pelvis. Gently roll the pelvis forwards as if you are spilling water out the front of the bucket and then roll it backwards as if you are spilling water out the back. Neutral spine is a position half way between the two.

Improving the posture of your upper body can help prevent neck and shoulder pain. The shoulder blades are two triangular bones that lie over the back of your ribcage. Their position can affect the alignment of the shoulder joints. A faulty position can result from muscle imbalance with some muscles being weak and underactive and other muscles tight and overactive.

Think of your shoulder blades as two kites lying along the upper back. Now try to gently glide them downwards and inwards without pinching them together. At the same time reach the crown of the head towards the ceiling. This encourages lengthening of the muscles at the back of your neck which have a tendency towards tightness.

You can also imagine holding a peach between your chin and chest when standing and also while turning your head. Again helps to discourage the chin from poking forwards.

As we age, our spine stiffens up and becomes more inflexible. Improving posture becomes more difficult with age, so if you have taken some tips from this article, start to put them in action right away!