Our bodies have evolved for thousands of years, and for the most part of this evolution, fast, efficient movement was critical. However, in today’s fast paced lifestyle, yet slow or no movement based working days, our body has different demands on it. Our lifestyle is changing, as well as our posture, and as a result quality of life is being affected. We are not designed to sit down for 12+ hours a day, but this is now what the body is having to deal with. And it is costing some people a lot…
What is the consequence of poor posture?
Some of the most common problems I see as a Pilates instructor in Nottingham is the inability to move the body in the natural movement pattern we were blessed with as children. Here I am highlighting the most common imbalances that effect how well we move functionally, and what we can do about it.
What’s the problem?
A tight chest
An obvious one I suppose. If you are sitting right now, take a quick look at yourself. Are your shoulders rounding forward? Is your neck hunched down and your chin pushed slight ahead of your neck? Goodbye alignment, hello kyphosis! Kyphosis is an excessive curve in the cervical and thoracic spine, leading to an almost hunched like appearance. The spine wasn’t meant to be this way and is puts force and pressure in all the wrong places, causing discomfort and ultimately limited range of all sorts of movements.
What can we do about it to help improve posture?
Step one is to just become aware that you might have a problem. Stand with your back against a wall; heels, bum, shoulder blades and back of head all touching the wall. If this in itself is hard, then there’s definitely an issue. Bring your arms out to the side in a W position, and keeping your wrists touching the wall, raise your hands above your head. Rib cage lifts? Hands coming off the wall? We need to work on mobility!
Chest opening stretches
Lie on one side with your legs bent and knees stacked. Stretch your arms out in front of you, one on top of the other. Slowly open your upper arm and allow it to come up and around to the other side. You should feel the chest opening right up. Repeat on the other side.
A back that doesn’t work
This can often be as a result of the above. A tight chest means a stretched out back that can’t engage properly. When our chest is tight, and our shoulders are rounded forwards, the trapezius muscles are stretched out and disengaged. When we externally rotate our shoulders, engaging the shoulder blades and traps, the muscles become a normal length again.
What can we do about it to help improve posture?
Well – how about we sit upright AND sit less??! OK, but if we are forced to sit… Work on the PULL motion in workouts. We need to train our back to become strong again, and this means giving the PUSH a break, and working on back lifts, isometric holds with an engaged scapula, and banded rows. These are all exercises I focus on in my local Pilates classes in Nottingham.
But seriously, work on correcting your posture. Sit up straight (or with a neutral spine I should say – no hyperextending!) and take regular movement breaks if you spend a lot of your day sat down.
The gluteals – the bum! The gluteus maximus is the biggest muscle in the body, yet for some of us it spends most of the day in the stretched-out position (sitting down!). This is leading to weak and disengaged glutes, meaning other muscles are having to compensate. I see so many injuries in the lower body (knee/ankle/foot) that actually stem from underactive glutes!
What can we do about it?
It’s time to get those glutes firing. Doing specific glute activation work before going for a run will help fire up the right muscles, and then we can train in a state that will be achieving maximum benefit. On top of this, you might just see a decrease in injuries once you get your glutes to fire properly. As an instructor, I spend a lot of time training my clients’ posterior chain – the glutes, hamstrings and back, so we can learn to properly engage these muscles again, and prevent injury.
One other symptom of sitting too long can be tight hip flexors, so be sure to stretch yourself out appropriately. If we become hunched and tight, movement becomes difficult. Movement = life! So let’s not make our lives difficult!
Move daily, stretch regularly, notice imbalances and strengthen them!
Check out these two videos showing a restorative Pilates flow :
If you want to move with me, I teach Pilates classes in Beeston at Nicola Martin Studios on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 0945. Check out all the details here.
If you’re not really sure how to help yourself, or think you don’t have the time, then I have just the thing you need. With just 10 minutes of nutritious movement a day, you can be on your way to a pain free, mobile and efficient body. My online program, The 10 Minutes A Day Bootcamp, will guide you through doing just that. We designed it so that all these typically weak body areas get the attention they need to be strong, flexible and working with you, rather than against you. With specifi cworkouts for the glutes, core and back, including upper and lower body workouts, the program has everything you need to rebuild a strong foundation. Check out all the details here, and if you have ANY QUESTIONS at all just get in touch.
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