As you probably already know, Pilates has many benefits.
For those who practice it, it can have a beneficial effect on health too, and one of those health aspects is improving your posture.
Posture problems are not just aesthetic, they can cause medical problems with your back.
One of the easiest way to prevent it is to practice Pilates.
To know more about Pilates for posture, end results and best exercises, read the following chapters:
Pilates for Posture Correction – Yes or No?
Pilates can ease your back pain caused by modern lifestyle where we sit a lot and do not move around as much as we should.
Our bodies are made in a way that we need to move to remain healthy. So, the best way to do it is to exercise.
Some people have lower back pain, and Pilates can make it easier.
Others, have a bad posture problem, and that can cause upper back pain.
If ignored, it can even lead to spine problems. Unfortunately, this is not something that happens to old people. It affects the young ones too.
There is one thing I have to mention, and that is to go see a doctor to exclude any serious conditions.
If there is a certain medical condition causing your posture problems, your doctor will advise you about exercises.
For those who are otherwise healthy, Pilates for posture correction is one of the best way to improve the posture.
There are four main factors for improving posture and Pilates is good for all of them:
• Strengthening core and upper back muscles – Core strengthening is one of the most important aspects of proper posture. Developed muscles support the spine. The same goes for upper back muscles. The only way to stand up straight and walk around with ease is to have muscles which can support you.
• Flexibility improvement – Some people are “crunched” because of the lack of flexibility. Besides strengthening your muscles, you must work on flexibility. Having a wider range of controlled motion in your body will help everything to function properly.
• Alignment of your spine – When practicing Pilates, you will have to do everything in controlled and correct motion. By doing certain exercises you you are going to lead your body into a proper position and your spine will soon get a normal and natural curve.
• Body awareness – Inactive people are not aware of their bodies in a way they should be. When practicing Pilates for posture correction (or any other Pilates exercises) you are going to focus on breathing and muscle contraction. After some time, you will learn how to control your breath and all the muscles in your body which are active during certain exercises. You will soon start noticing even the slightest imperfections and wrong alignments, which is great to correct your posture and be aware of it.
Pilates or Yoga for Posture? Which one is better?
Except for Pilates, Yoga is also popular for posture.
It has some similarities with Pilates, if we observe it as a physical activity. Yoga will also increase flexibility, improve body awareness and even strengthen some muscles.
So, should you do Pilates or Yoga for posture?
Many will disagree here, because both Yoga and Pilates have numerous benefits on health and body, but Pilates (for me) would be a better choice.
Pilates is core-oriented and numerous exercises revolve around core which is the center and starting point in dealing with back problems, including posture.
Yes, you can practice certain yoga poses which are great to improve posture, but to be honest, that will start looking more like Pilates and less like Yoga.
Yoga is great, and many people practice both, however, Pilates exercises for posture are a bit more efficient.
Pilates will develop your muscles a bit more, and a bit faster, and muscles are necessary for having a proper posture.
Yoga will add more flexibility, so if you can, add an occasional yoga practice in addition to your Pilates routine.
This way, you will get the best from both worlds and reach your goal even faster!
TOP 3 Pilates Exercises for Posture Correction!
If you want to start practicing Pilates for posture correction, it is important to know which are the best exercises.
I will assume that you are a beginner and have no previous experience.
That means I will list three basic exercises which are easy to perform and the injuries risk is minimal.
The first one has a focus on flexibility, second on core strength and stability and the third one on activating your back.
1. Stretching your back (Cat and Cow position)
If your posture is bad, you should start with very light stretching and moving exercises.
Get down to all fours. Your knees have to be positioned underneath your hips, and wrists below your shoulders. On the inhale, arch your back and push your belly towards the floor. Do it slowly, feel your spine moving. On the exhale, slowly start bending your back in the opposite direction and lifting them upwards.
2.Strengthening your core (so-called Hundreds)
Core strengthening can be done with dozens of exercises, and here is one of the easiest.
Lay on the floor, bend your knees and lift your feet. Your knees should be positioned above your ankles and your shins parallel to the floor.
Put your arms alongside your body. Lift your head, shoulders and arms from the floor. Arms should be aligned with the body, do not lift them high up. Make small pulses with your arms (move them in short up and down movement next to your body, at least 10 pulses). Lower down, rest for a few seconds, and repeat. As you strengthen your muscles, you are going to be able stay up and make pulses for much longer (for a hundred times, as the name suggests).
If this is too hard for you, lower the feet to the ground.
3. Activating your back
Lay on your belly. Keep your legs straight and elongated. Your arms should be alongside the body, on the sides. Slowly lift up your head, shoulders and arms from the floor as far as you can.
Reach your arms backwards (your arms will not lift very high up, and that is normal). Stay in the upper position for about three seconds and lower down again.
Concentrate on your breath and do not hold it. You have to breathe. If you want to activate your back even more, lay on your belly and keep both your legs and arms elongated. Elevate the right arm and the left leg simultaneously, hold for 3 seconds and lower down. Do the same with the opposite arm and leg.
Pilates Posture – Before and After: What to expect?
Pilates exercises for posture correction are going to bring results if you practice regularly and do your best to perform exercises correctly.
Results can’t happen overnight, but you can expect them to gradually appear.
Firstly, you will notice “immediate” results. When you finish your practice, you will feel better, your back pain will be reduced and you will stand upright. This is not going to last long, and after an hour or two everything will be as before, but it will give you an idea of the end result.
After a few weeks, you may notice that the good feeling and upright position last longer than before. If you practice in the morning, it may last until the end of the day. Unfortunately, if you do not practice every day, the feeling and posture are going to “worsen up” a bit in between two practices. But, if the upper back pain occurs again, it will not be as severe as before.
Finally, after a few months, you may notice that your symptoms are almost gone, and you feel and stand good in between practices.
This is a crucial moment! Don’t stop practicing now. If you do, you will go back to improper posture and pain. Keep on practicing and you will never have to worry about bad posture again.
After a few years of Pilates, you will not even remember that your posture was bad.
So, Pilates posture before and after, what exactly is going to change?
You can expect a back pain to disappear with time, to stand upright without making an effort to do so, and to move much easier than before. It will have a long-term health effect to, and prevent serious spine problems.
Practicing Pilates for posture correction brings great results to those who are persistent and realize the importance of regular exercise.
Start slowly, perform basic exercises, and as you become stronger, add harder ones into your routine. Results will not appear overnight, but after a few months, you will see a big difference.
When exercising, if any kind of pain or discomfort appear, do not force yourself to continue. Avoiding injuries is very important.