Pilates and Reversing “Computer Posture”

Practicing Pilates helps many things from core strength, to long lean muscles and a streamlined midsection with lifted, tall posture.  But as an increasingly large portion of our population spends hours and hours each day on computers and devices from phones to tablets, there’s a specific postural problem emerging.  I’ve heard it called “text neck”, “slumpy computer spine” and “question mark posture”.  I’m sure there are many words for this collapsed, flexed, downward gazing, rounded, hunched over position people get into and stay in for hours on end.

The Beginning of an Antidote

Put simply, the antidote to this postural problem involves performing a combination of movements in other planes (extension, rotation, lateral bending or flexion, side to side shifting/translation).  This sounds easy, to simply move in the opposite way.  However, the longer our postural positions get familiarized in our bodies, the more likely our connective tissue / fascial system will start to fixate into that familiar shape.  Fascia will hold us where we spend the most time, hence the importance to alter positions, get moving and release some of the more stubborn connective tissue patterns using Pilates and myofascial manipulation methods.

Here’s a game plan that occurs in Pilates lessons.  The intention is to restore posture while gaining strength, length and alignment:

Access and Develop the Postural Supporting Structures

Pilates fundamentals focus on spine position.  We educate and teach our clients where our natural, neutral postural alignment is.  Development of the deep core supporting structures like the transversus abdominus, deep spinal stabilizers and other supporting structures is our starting place.  Without this fundamental base support, some of these movements in other planes are quite difficult to perform.  We use the breath and teach movement patterns that access and develop the body’s natural postural support system.


An awareness of where the body is in space and what is happening via a feeling state is especially beneficial.  As the client gains awareness in their Pilates sessions, overall awareness will occur away from the sessions as well.  Part of body awareness and positional awareness for computer and device users is to troubleshoot postural positions while using computers.  We can discuss and practice how to sit, where the keyboard could be optimally, head position, arm reach, chairs and lumbar spine support, the position of the legs and feet with connection to the floor, and alike.  With this new knowledge and the beginning of deep core support, new methods and strategies can be created to provide spinal balance when sitting at the computer, texting or reading.

Finally, when combining this base support with awareness under the guidance of a certified Pilates instructor we can come up with movement patterns to “undo” the havoc of sustained forward flexion, likely from looking downward and slumping in a chair for hours on end.

Try Pilates with us here at Pilates Northwest.  Your back and neck will thank you and it will even be fun!







Can Pilates help back pain?

At Pilates Northwest, we see a lot of clients with back pain – from low back pain, pain around the shoulder blades, pain in the upper trapezius muscles, to pain in the rib areas and mid back – we’ve seen it all. In today’s computer-based, high stress society, we get a lot of people who come in with the goal of lessening their back pain. Practicing Pilates is a great way to do this. For those with severe back pain, consulting with your physician if often the first step. We want to be sure there are no contraindications to exercise before working with you. Once you have the green light, we are ready!

Pilates principles are consistent with exercise programs that promote back health. In particular, most hospital-based back health programs look like Pilates programs. Learning neutral alignment of the spine (where the curves of the spine are healthy and optimal) and strengthening the deep core postural muscles that support this alignment are vital skills for the back pain patient.

Patients with pain stemming from lack of strength and poor spinal alignment are particularly likely to benefit from a Pilates exercise program.  Postural alignment and body asymmetry can be altered. This improvement can drastically improve the wear and tear resulting from uneven stresses on the intervertebral joints and discs.

Pilates improves overall deep strength, flexibility, and function of the muscles of the hip and shoulder girdle. Fluidity and supported movement through these joints helps prevent unnecessary torque on the vertebral column.

At Pilates Northwest, we like to ask questions. We have worked in conjunction with other health professionals. We like teamwork and often times improving back pain takes communication between different parties. We strive to help our clients increase their strength, fluidity, suppleness and alignment. We see that a strong, more aligned and functional back is a happier back. We listen to our clients and take session notes. We treat each person differently and provide highly personalized sessions.