Pilates Posture: Stand Tall Like a Goddess

10480178_777129688994478_4898179285751687696_nI’ve been 5’9″ for as long as I can remember. I was always in the back row of every class picture. My friends in the front row. My parents nagging me non-stop  to “throw” my shoulders back. Pull my shoulders back. Stand up! It wasn’t as if I was being rebellious. I just didn’t know how important it was to my health, future and life it would be to Stand Tall.

Truth is there is not one person who does not need to have proper posture.  But, it’s not that easy to have proper posture when you have spent so many years without it. Also, our lifestyles are not always conducive to proper posture. We sit too much, drive too much, have desks that are not properly measured to us. Our lifestyles constantly reinforce poor posture because we don’t enforce good posture.

I know poor posture is not intentional. In fact I can’t think of one person who is yearning to be the little old lady with the hump back.  But, guess what? Hump back didn’t just wake up like that. Nope, it happened ever so gradually over her entire lifetime.

As a Pilates instructor I work with clients of all ages, careers and fitness goals. I hear it all the time when I adjust their bodies into alignment how “strange” it feels or “crooked”. Because we don’t always realize how out of alignment we are, how slouched we are. Right now you’re probably reading this and thinking of someone you know who needs to work on their posture. Hold that thought, I am going to have you check your posture in a minute.While I am sure you know what “good” posture is let’s review.

Proper posture is having the ability to stand, lay or sit upright against the earth’s gravitational pull. Darn gravity! Training your body to stand, walk and lay without straining in one place more than the other is good Posture.Having good posture means using your muscles to support your body evenly. Yes, you have to use your muscles to hold your bones up.  Your posture is on point when your body is in a nice plumb line: Ears are over shoulders, shoulders are over hips, hips are over knees and even weight is spread throughout your feet.

What’s so important about Good Posture anyways?

Aside from looking correct, confident, strong and well, attractive. Posture is important to your body functioning at it’s best.  When you sit, stand or lay with correct posture you body is able to use it’s muscles in the correct alignment, decreasing wear and tear on the body. This posture also aides in reducing stress on your spine and overall spine health. The muscles in your body will not fatigue so quickly as they are able to work in the fashion they were designed. You’re less likely to overuse a particular muscle and therefore reduce the likelihood of pain and aches in the body especially the back. Oh and again, you just look better!

Still not convinced your should pay attention to your posture? No worries, let’s talk circulation. If you are slouching you’re affecting the blood flow to your spine and other major body parts. Your spinal column is the passage of information from your brain to your body. Picture a freeway, everyone is going in one direction. Their are on ramps and off ramps. What happens when a car stalls at ramp? It backs up traffic. Information isn’t getting to parts of the body the way it was designed. Overtime this can become chronic.  Poor posture will also lead to back pain and aches or even injuries, which then will lead to furthering the bad posture. Think about it. Last time you had an ache or pain did you stand taller or hunch more?

Now that I have your attention let’s check YOUR posture.

Stand against a wall. Your feet will be about shoulder distance apart and six inches from the wall. Your head, shoulders and hips will be against the wall. When you do this you neck and low back should have less that a two inch space from the wall. If it’s larger than you are looking at signs of poor posture. If you cannot get your head, shoulders and hips against the wall at the same time, that’s a sign of poor posture.

Check your body’s alignment regularly with this exercise.

The Wall 

Set up just as you did to check your posture. Double check that your head, shoulders, hips are against the wall to start. Then with soft knees curl your head off the wall, then one vertebra at a time articulate your spine off the wall until your hands are in front of your knees. Missed a vertebra? Stop! Start over. If you miss it again then that’s as far as you go. Continue to roll up and down focusing on one bone at a time. Using your core will help you get through the whole spine one day. Do this a few times and then roll all the way up and hold.

Again, double check your landmarks. Head, shoulders, hips against the wall. Lift your arms to shoulder height. Keeping your arms parallel to the floor and each other plug your shoulders on the wall. Reach your arms forward, the shoulders will leave the wall then plug them back on the wall. Do this again a few times. Reaching forward, plugging back in. You’ll feel the muscles of your upper back warm up and pull your collar bones wide to allow for your shoulders to touch the wall. These muscles are necessary for keeping your shoulders “on” your back and not rounding forward.

The last time you plug your shoulders on the wall hold. Draw small circles with your arms. Keep the circles controlled, only as big as your can maintain your shoulders on the wall. Do 5-10 then reverse.

photo-13-150x150Lesley Logan author of Profitable Pilates and Los Angeles Magazines Best of LA Pilates instructor has been teaching in LA since 2008.  She currently  teaches at Westwood Pilates and Equinox West Hollywood  where she also runs the Pilates studio.  As a goals coach for Fitness Instructors around the world she enjoys seeing her clients hit their personal and career goals!

Website: www.lesleyloganpilates.com

Facebook: Lesley Logan Pilates 

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