This article explores Pilates for posture so you can learn more about this exercise method and determine whether it’s right for you.
Bad posture, low back pain, shoulders rolled forward and a stomach protruding out go hand in hand when suffering from bad posture. Right away, a doctor recommends exercises to strengthen the muscles around the low back and the core.
What gets missed are the intricate muscles that surround the spine and the forgotten-about deep abdominal layer.
What is Pilates?
Pilates – it’s not just for girls, ballet dancers, or gymnasts. I’ve said it repeatedly; everyone should incorporate it, whether a top athlete or a novice in the fitness world. Too often see people who want to do Pilates but feel they need to be flexible before they jump into it. Well, that’s not so; doing Pilates puts you in the position.
It’s the common “go-to” functional training and rehabilitation for injuries.
Pilates is a great workout when your body is fighting against performing day-to-day activities. Just like tying your shoe.
Now, regardless of the type of workout you engage in, Crossfit, HIIT training, Kickboxing. All of these are great, and I’ve participated in them. But adding in Pilates will help the body overcome obstacles of bad posture and flexibility restraints.
In the video below, I present a posture and flexibility workout that you can start practicing immediately. Please pay careful attention to my points about how to properly hold your position with each exercise.
Here are the key points you should remember when performing the Full Roll Up and modified version – Roll Up with bent knees.
- Keep your belly button pulled towards your spine when going through each move.
- Do not thrust your ribs forward.
- Your head is in alignment with your spine. Do not let the head lean forward, maintain a long neck.
- As you roll up your eyes, remain forward. When you are sitting up, your eyes are looking down to your knees.
- Control your breath – keep pulling your ribs in and breathing to the side and back of the body.
- Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, “melt” your ribs down to the floor. Your ribs will seem to have disappeared and melted into your body.
- Arms and hands are extended straight out in line with the shoulders. To help with correct placement, hold a broomstick or something light in your hands.
- Inhale, lift the torso together as one unit as the arms, head, neck, and shoulders move up in a fluid motion.
- Articulate the spine as you roll up. Once sitting up slightly, tuck the pelvis up and roll back down towards the floor, placing one vertebra at a time on the floor as you lower your body.
- Begin this move with the knees bent. This will help you to get into the correct position. To assist with the move and help you come up, place your feet under the edge of the bed or put on a pair of ankle weights to assist in the move.
- Once you can extend both legs straight out, keep the inner thighs engaged at all times. Toes pointed and sides of the feet together.
- Hold a 5-10lbs weighted ball in both hands to make a more intense and challenging move. If you do this, pay close attention you maintain the proper position of the spine and head.
Who can benefit from Pilates for posture?
People of all ages can benefit from Pilates for posture, but it is particularly good for older people who may be more likely to have poor posture as they age. Pilates is also recommended for people with an injury or physical impairment that affects their posture. For example, it may help people who have sustained an injury to the spine or had a spinal operation. Pilates for posture can also be a great choice for pregnant women. As your body changes during pregnancy, you must maintain good posture. Pilates is a safe and effective way to do this.
With continued practice of this move, the body will move through the exercise in a fluid motion rather than choppy and imbalanced. By keeping your ribs pulled in, you’ll notice a difference in how your midsection looks, and you’ll develop a smaller waistline and feel your back open up.
The midsection will feel tighter and like you are standing taller with your shoulders back. The firm and tight feeling you will begin to notice is all around the midsection from the front to the back.
Imagine wearing a tight belt or, for example, a weight lifting belt or a back brace. These Pilates for Posture exercises recruit the intricate muscles required to execute a move correctly and with control.
What happens when a back brace or weight lifting belt is strapped on? Immediately the low back feels protected because there is something holding everything in. Perfect, wouldn’t you say?
Our bodies are already built for it, and it’s factory installed. But, it can become uncomfortable to wear this every day. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have an existing tight belt around our midsection?
The key is strengthening the core, making it work, and performing as it should.
A stronger core and a flexible body reduce the risk of injuries and help to speed up recovery when an injury has affected the body. By practicing Pilates on an off day or adding to your daily workout, you have less time to recover from an injury.
If you are interested in Sylvia’s Body Weight Pilates, you can check it out here.
With continued practice, your posture will begin to improve as you practice your Pilates moves and are more aware of your positioning and how to engage the muscles in your body, so they are firing all at once.
Sylvia Favela, “Queen of Pilates,” author of “Body Weight Pilates.”