The Pilates Approach to Posture By Barbara Katz October 2015
One of the most common reasons for taking Pilates is “I need to strengthen my core” or “I want to/my doctor says I have to improve my posture.” These two goals are achieved with the same Pilates program. You cannot address posture issues without strengthening your core.
To someone who has never experienced Pilates, it might seem that only the Abdominal Series addresses core strength. But your core is more than abdominal muscles. It’s your entire torso. In addition to the abdominals, the core includes your back and your glutes. While certain exercises may emphasize abdominal strength, you need the rest of your core to achieve the proper form and movement, even if you don’t think you’re using the other parts. And this is one reason why Pilates is such an effective solution and a full-body workout: In Pilates, every part of the body should be working even if it’s not moving.
Take It From the Top
A common posture problem is shoulders that round forward. This can be the result of hunching forward at a computer for hours each day, carrying a backpack or purse that’s too heavy, or nursing an infant. Clients with this issue sometimes ask for exercises that will open up their chest across the collar bone and stretch them. But without strong muscles to hold the shoulder blades in toward the center line of the back, all the stretching in the world won’t help the problem. Let’s take a look at the action and muscles required to help with this problem.
Pull your abs in for stability. Then pull your shoulders down and away from your ears. Next, pull your shoulders back which will help move the shoulder blades in toward the center of your back. You have just used three major muscles, none of them abdominals, but all of them part of the core and important for proper posture of the upper back. (If you’re keeping score: trapezius, rhomboid major, and latissimus dorsi .)
Next time I’ll focus on the abdominals’ role in posture. Until then, abs in and up, everyone!
Have you heard the one about 30 Pilates lessons giving you a whole new body?
"You’ll feel different after 10 sessions, see a difference in your body after 20 sessions, and have a new body after 30 sessions."
Pilates can change the shape of your body and build long, lean (not bulky) muscles. It can even make you appear taller by improving your posture. But the dramatic progress implied by the 10-20-30 quotes refers to a possible change IF you work out three times a week at a very high level of intensity. And unlike in Joe Pilates’ lifetime, we now know that genetics plays a role in a person’s body type and that health is not assessed by how we look.