We all have different body shapes and sizes; broad or narrow shoulders, big or small curves of our waist and/or butt, long/short legs or torso, and the list goes on. In Pilates, regardless of what body shape you are, our aim is to condition the body to a good alignment, which is a neutral spinal alignment. However, daily activities such as working for long hours at the desk, standing for prolonged periods, or carrying heavy loads (like your toddler) may cause spinal misalignment, resulting in tension in the shoulders or back as the body tries to compensate for the deviation.
Most Common Postural Problem: Kyphosis-Lordosis
Kyphosis is also known as a ‘hunchback’ , while lordosis is an exaggerated curve of the lower back (Candice is a sufferer!). As Pilates instructors, we often analyze our clients’ postures to check for postural problems by following a standardized guideline.
However, it is important to note that only doctors are allowed to diagnose such conditions, so the best we can do is to advise you on the possibility of having this condition.
Postural Kyphosis is characterized by an excessive curve of the upper back that forms a hump, and accompanied by the rounding of shoulders forwards. Desk-bound workers are more prone to develop this condition due to long hours in poor posture, which causes a weakening of the muscles and ligaments in the back and tight chest muscles.
To correct this posture, we want to focus on exercises that strengthen the back muscles and open up the chest.
A few examples of such exercises performed during Pilates Fitness classes are:
1. Plow (Weight Loss Class)
2. Plow On Long Box with Extension (Body Aches Class)
Kyphosis can occur with or without lordosis. A person with lordosis can be seen having an exaggerated curve in the lower back as seen below:
The tendency of developing this condition is higher if you often wear high heels or are pregnant, so be sure to watch out for signs of lordosis. A person suffering from lordosis will usually have lower back pains and tightness in the hip flexors, as the pelvis is tilted forward.
Here are 3 examples of how Pilates exercises can help someone with lordosis:
1.Stretch Hip Flexors with Single Thigh Stretch
2.Stretch Lower Back with Cow Stretch
3.Strengthen Abs with Curl Ups
For someone suffering from kyphosis-lordosis posture, a combination of Pilates exercises will help to strengthen and stretch the respective muscles.
Swayback is characterized by:
– a slight rounding of the shoulders
– an extended neck forwards
– a flattened lower back
Sedentary individuals are most prone to having a swayback posture, and usually have weak muscles in the abdominals, neck and upper back, as well as tight hamstrings and lower back.
Most of our clients would be familiar with the Hip Roll, which is a great strengthening exercise for people suffering from Swayback as it strengthens the glutes (butt muscles) and hamstrings while increasing hip mobility.
With consistent and accurate practice of Pilates, you can correct your posture to return to its ideal alignment by reducing muscle imbalances, which also means putting an end to body aches and pains!