August 4, 2015
Pilates and Posture: Get Tall, Long and Upright!
Most of you have seen or heard terms like “text neck”, “sway back”, “forward head posture” and alike. We could go on and on. There are so many terms out there for misaligned posture, but what is proper alignment and how do we get it by doing Pilates?
First, let’s define upright optimal posture. Counter to intuition, it’s not just “chest up, shoulders back, suck in the belly” while standing. While these cues have been heard by most of us, they don’t provide good posture nor do they help improve postural alignment.
Postural alignment starts when there is structural balance and integrity through the pelvic girdle. You may call the pelvic girdle the “hips” or “back” but the entire complex of all of the pelvic bones is what we, at Pilates Northwest, are calling the “girdle”. The relationship of the pelvic girdle to the areas below (legs to feet) and above (spine through head) is what we look at when assessing posture and alignment during your sessions. Not only are we looking at the tilt of the pelvis (forward tilt or anterior tilt, backward tilt or posterior tilt), but we are also looking at the pelvic girdle’s relationship to itself. Since the pelvis has joints (sacroiliac joint, lumbosacral joint, pubic symphysis), it is possible and quite common for one side of the pelvis to do something different from the other side, a kind of imbalance that can improve with regular Pilates sessions.
Without getting into complex anatomy, the principle here is interesting: Thorough movement, cues, education, stretching, releasing and strengthening, we can better pelvic girdle alignment. Thus starts the postural improvement.
As Pilates sessions continue over time, we are working toward helping you have a more aligned, optimal relationship with gravity; an uprightness that is effortless; a lift; a feeling of lightness and ease. We are working toward aligning several bony landmarks that are evidenced in the standing posture:
Postural Alignment from Top to Bottom, Facing Sideways, Bony Landmarks:
1. Mid Ear
2. Mid Shoulder
3. Mid Hip (Greater Trochanter)
4. Mid Outer Knee
3. Mid Ankle Bone (Lateral Malleolus)
If we dropped a plumb line through those points, we would have aligned posture if that plumb line bisected each segment somewhat equally. Ideally we would also like a lack of compression forces through the spine and other joints for ease of movement.
We’re not looking for perfect posture here at Pilates Northwest, we’re trying for improvement. We’re not looking for a held, stiffened uprightness from contracting muscles, we’re looking for increased freedom and aliveness. We talk and educate about the posture related to real life activities, from sitting at a computer to sitting in a kayak to driving positions.
Posture is just one part of the Pilates process. Please send this article to a friend who could benefit from this unique form of exercise. We work with all ages and all fitness and experience levels. The staff here at Pilates Northwest is fully certified, experienced and friendly.
Let the postural progress begin!