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Perfecting Your Posture With Pilates

Posted on 1st February 2019 by

You might be surprised to hear that there is no such thing as ‘Perfect Posture’. It has become a deeply ingrained belief that slouching will lead to back problems. However, the most recent evidence makes it clear that posture variability – so changing positions regularly, is the most effective way to prevent back issues. In fact, trying to hold yourself straight and upright all the time may even add to back problems, as you’ll be creating unnecessary muscular tension.

But, that said, if you do spend a lot of your day sitting at a computer, driving or sat in meetings, doing regular exercises such as Pilates, can be really beneficial.

Here’s some excellent Pilates exercises that may help combat the effects of sitting.

#1 Spine Twist

  1. Starting position: Natural standing position. Centre engaged.
  2. Cross your arms over your chest and place the palms onto the front of your shoulders.
  3. Action: Breathe in to prepare.
  4. Breathe out as you twist your upper body to the right, keeping your pelvis stable. Imagine growing taller from your waist as you twist.
  5. Breathe in as you twist your upper body back to the centre, maintaining a lengthened spine.
  6. Repeat up to ten times alternating sides.

#2 Arm Openings Level 2

  1.  Start Position: Lie on your side with your shoulders and hips stacked. Head supported on a small cushion. Ensure your back is in neutral and your centre is engaged. Hips bent to approx. 45 degrees and knees bent to 90 degrees. Arms reaching in front of the body and resting one on top of the other.
  2. Action: INHALE to prepare.
  3. EXHALE, float the top arm upwards and over your head, beginning the first part of a circular motion, keep the eyes in line with the hand.
  4. INHALE for the second half of the circle as you return to the starting position.
  5. Tips: Imagine holding a piece of chalk in the top hand and drawing a large circle above the body for level two. Think of your shoulder blade drawing downwards as the top arm lifts like the counter weight on a railway gate.

#3 Cobra

  1. ┬áStart Position: lie on your stomach with a cushion under your tummy for support if required. Ensure centre is engaged, shoulder baldes are drawn down and back of your neck is long. Bend your arms into an ‘L’ shape and place your elbows slightly higher than shoulder height. Hips turned outwards and legs wider than hip width apart.
  2. Action: INHALE to prepare.
  3. EXHALE, gently slide your shoulder blades downwards and lengthen your upper body off the mat, using your hands for support. Maintain length from the crown of the head to your tailbone and continue peeling your body away the mat, section by section until your hip bones are lifted.
  4. INHALE and hold your cobra position.
  5. EXHALE, layer your body back down onto the mat commencing with your hip bones and finishing with your forehead to return to neutral spine position.
  6. Tips: Imagine peeling the body away from the mat section by section beginning with the forehead, then the shoulders, breastbone, lower ribcage, waist then hip bones. Reach your tailbone towards your heels to prevent over extending your lower back.

#4 Breaststroke Prep Level 2

  1.  Starting position: Lie on your front. Forehead resting on a small (1 inch) cushion or folded towel. Back of the neck long. Arms resting long beside the body on the floor. Palms facing inwards. Neutral lumbo-pelvic position. Legs out straight, hip-distance apart.
  2. Action: Inhale to prepare
  3. Exhale, slide the shoulder blades gently downwards and reach from the shoulder blades to the fingertips towards the feet and allow the arms to hover 1 2 inches off the mat. Simultaneously, lengthen the upper body off the mat to hover the breastbone approx, 1 inch form the floor (no lumbar extension). Keep the back of the neck long.
  4. Inhale and hold the position.
  5. Exhale, relax the shoulder blades and arms to the mat. Simultaneously, lengthen the upper body as to lowers to the mat to return to the starting position. Keep the back of the neck long.
  6. Repeat 6 – 8 times.

#5 Swan Dive Level 1

  1. Starting position: Lie on your front. Legs out straight, hip-distance apart. Arms bent up beside the body, with the elbows slightly below the level of the shoulders. Forehead resting on small cushion or folded towel. Neck long.
  2. Action: Inhale to prepare.
  3. Exhale, lift your breastbone to hover off the floor, allow the neck and head to follow the movement, keeping the neck long.
  4. Inhale and hold the position.
  5. Exhale and lower the breastbone to the mat, allow the neck and head to follow the movement, keeping the neck long.
  6. Repeat 6 – 8 times.

Doing these exercises throughout the week can be really helpful at easing any built up stiffness and areas of tension and reminding muscles to work! But there’s no substitute for moving regularly. Don’t forget, the most important thing is moving and changing position throughout the day!

#LovePilates