Poor posture doesn't just make you look awkward in photos, it has long term negative health effects. Poor posture is a sign that your body is imbalanced. When one muscle is weak, stronger muscles need to compensate, causing alignment issues and spinal deformities. Enter Pilates.
What Causes Bad Posture?
Misalignment of the spine often occurs over time due, in part, to bad habits. Some causes are more obvious than others. While slouching in your chair for long periods of time can place added stress on your lower back, similar stress can be placed on muscles from wearing excessively high heels or by sleeping or driving in the wrong position. As a result, you may experience pain in your lower back, neck, or shoulders, or discomfort that radiates to your hips, buttocks, and legs if the sciatic nerve becomes compressed.
Posture-related issues may also be caused by:
- Poor core muscle stability
- Work chairs that provide insufficient support or are not properly adjusted
- Bending the upper spine downward too frequently, as when reading or sending text messages
How Pilates Can Help Your Spine
The movements associated with Pilates are performed in a way that targets your core muscles to improve overall strength, which provides added support to your spine to improve stability and alignment. The slow, controlled movements of Pilates Barre target important back-supporting muscles like the abdominal and iliopsoas muscles (flexors), a large muscle of the back called the latissimus dorsi ("lats"), and the obliques (side muscles).
Moves Designed to Improve Alignment
Breathing exercises can prepare you for the various movements you'll perform. The movements associated with Pilates Barre rely primarily on gravity to restore the body's natural alignment and stability. Moves are tiny, sometimes only an inch up and then an inch down. Tiny movements allow you to perform the exercise longer.
Moves performed on your stomach, like the swan prep, swan, and swimming moves, improve core strength and flexibility by tightening your abdominal muscles while using leg and arm motions to stretch related muscles. Controlled breathing is done as you progress through each movement to encourage relaxation and further ease muscle tension. Spinal alignment is improved as you:
- Activate your core muscles
- Relax your chest
- Maintain shoulder alignment
- Stabilize your pelvis while working your core muscles
Exercises Based on Comfort and Ability
A course in Pilates Barre begins with simple movements and motions that serve as the foundation for more challenging moves that come later to work more muscles and further increase core strength and symmetry. You'll advance at a pace that's comfortable as you learn how to properly perform movements.
Yoga cow, plank, pelvic curls, and Pilates darts, which can continue into swimming motions, are some of the other back strengthening exercises typically learned in class. Before making Pilates a part of your life, however, check with your doctor, especially if you have existing back issues. Making positive lifestyle adjustments between sessions can further enhance the benefits you'll receive from Pilates.
In Raleigh, NC, contact PBX Pilates to learn about our classes: 919-435-4229.