Improving posture and reducing back ache
With extended periods of time sitting at a desk staring into screens, many of us may have noticed our posture worsening. This can go on to cause back, neck or leg pain as well as potentially lead to other complications. In this blog I outline some Pilates-based movements and stretches that can work to improve our posture and reduce or prevent occurrences of posture-related pain.
Pilates aims to improve strength, flexibility and body alignment. These principles are why Pilates exercises are so beneficial in improving posture. Pilates exercises help to strengthen muscles that are responsible and contribute to good posture. Muscles that become tight or weak can lead to muscle imbalances and poor alignment of our spines.
We are designed to move so regular movement is key, especially if you spend long periods of time at a desk. Exercises that help to encourage movement though our spines as well as challenge and strengthen core muscles are a great way to improve your posture.
Starting in a four point kneeling (all fours) position. Your knees should be directly under your hips and hands just slightly forwards to your shoulders. The elbows should be soft so the insides of the elbows are facing each other. Your head and neck should be long and aligned with the spine and the pelvis in a neutral position.
Inhale to prepare.
Exhale reaching your right arm forwards, at the same time reach the opposite leg away and off the mat as far as you can control.
Inhale and bring the leg and arm back to the start position.
Repeat alternating arms and legs.
Lying on your back with your knees bent, your feet approximately hip width apart on a foam roller and your arms down by your side. Keep your neck long and collar bones wide. Core engaged.
Take a breath in and on your outbreath engage your bottom (glute) muscles. Tilt your pelvis backwards (posteriorly) and gradually peel your spine off the matt and into a bridge position.
Inhale to hold this position and as your exhale slowly lower your spine back onto the mat.
Plank position with leg lifts
Starting in a four point kneeling (all fours) position. Your knees should be directly under your hips, moving your hands another hands width in front of your shoulders.
Hover knees approximately one inch off the mat then extend forwards to form a plank position. Inhale to hold this position.
Exhale lift one leg off the mat in alignment with the body, inhale to lower leg.
Repeat alternating legs for 4-6 times.
Exhale to lower back to the hover position then back onto the mat.
Spinal Rotation Stretch
This is a gentle movement and stretch to improve the flexibility of your spine.
In sitting either with your legs crossed or out in front, fold your arms at shoulder height. Breathe in to prepare. As you breathe out rotate your body around to one side, allowing your spine to rotate. Simultaneously rotate your neck to follow the movement. Breathe in to hold then as you breathe out bring your body and neck back to the centre. Repeat on the opposite side.
Child Pose stretch
This is a lovely stretch to relax and open out throughout your spine and your shoulders.
Kneeling on the floor with your knees hip width apart. Walk your hands forwards, lowering your torso down between your knees and sit back onto your heels. Slowly allow your forehead rest towards the floor. As your breather out relax your shoulders down towards the ground and drop into the stretch a little further.