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A Primer on Pilates and Posture

Pilates teaches the use of core strength by using the deepest “core” muscles of the “powerhouse.” These muscles including all of the abdominal muscles, the back and the pelvic floor, support posture by allowing shoulder relaxation and freer neck and head movement and by balancing the distribution of weight between all parts of the body. It is through all of these things collectively that Pilates is an ideal way for anyone with back pain or poor posture to improve the posture and ameliorate back pain.

Ideally, good posture can relieve stress and minimize pain. Some of best benefits of good posture include:

*Total body pain relief, including relief from back, neck, hip, leg and foot pain.

*All parts of the body will move more efficiently.

*Good posture encourages better muscle function.

*Good posture will produce a greater and more flexible range of motion.

*When one has good posture, they naturally exude confidence.

PILATES AND THE SPINE –

Pilates is based on sound scientific principles that address the structural aspects of the human body. An awareness of proper posture and body alignment is built into all Pilates exercises, but the overall goal of the exercises is to promote good posture by balancing and redistributing stress from standing and moving, evenly among all the muscles and bone groups of the body. When the back and abdominal muscles are evenly developed, the spine is equally supported.

POOR POSTURE –

Poor posture can be the result of either too much or too little curve to the spine, or because the curves of the spine are not properly balanced with one another. Improper posture causes muscles to develop asymmetrically and that forces some muscle groups to work overtime to support the body in a standing position. Naturally, the result is that some muscles or muscles groups become progressively and excessively weakened.

PILATES HELPS POSTURE PROBLEMS –

Pilates in an ideal way to attempt to combat poor posture problems because Pilates movements encourage bilateral and even muscle development and flexibility, all of which happen simultaneously.

PILATES BACK EXERCISES –

Pilates exercises don’t have to be long or exhausting ,but over time, they can re-balance and realign the body. Here is one o the best Pilates exercises to alleviate back pain and improve posture.

FINDING A NEUTRAL SPINE POSITION –

The goal of finding a neutral spine position is to focus all of one’s concentration on proper spinal alignment and balance of both sides of the body. Through an increased awareness of the areas where tension accumulates the most and where a lack of centering puts an unbalanced amount of weight on one side of the body, one is better able to refocus and align and center the entire body, both in a when lying down and standing.

The Basic Position –

Lie on the floor with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor. The legs should be parallel and the heels, toes and hips are all in one straight line. Arms are relaxed at the side.

Relax –

Relax the body, including the neck, the jaw and shoulders. The back should rest effortlessly on the floor and the rib cage should be dropped so that the lower ribs are touching the floor.

Deep Breathing –

Breathe deeply enough that you can feel it in your back, on the sides of your rib cage and all the way down into the pelvis.

Pelvic Tilt –

Exhale deeply, using the abs to push the lower spine to the floor in a pelvic tuck. Inhale only when the tuck is released.

To Balance Pelvis and Spine –

To balance the pelvis and put the spine in a neutral position, pretend that there is a glass of water on your lower abs, sitting just below the belly button. Gently allow the ab muscles to push in towards the spine (as in pulling the belly button to the spine,) so that the stomach is flattened. The goal is to do this without spilling the imaginary glass of water.

Scanning body for alignment –

Relax the body so that it is in a balanced alignment on the floor. Breathe deeply, and drop abs to the floor. The neck and lower spine should be of of the floor.

Pilates exercises stretch, elongate and tone the body while building important muscle strength, and by using muscles that are often missed in stretching workouts. Although one might think that Pilates is mostly about working the core, that is not entirely true. By working the core, it is possible to balance the weight and impact that are put on various body muscles, joints and bones. The result is a properly aligned body that stands tall and erect because of good posture, and that means a lot less pain for the body in general.