The twentieth century lifestyle is technology driven and the modern man sits for more than 6 hours a day. Majority of the population are either staring down at their cell phones, behind a computer, in the car or sitting in front of the TV. Our bodies were not designed to be sedentary and now more than ever people are struggling with the negative impact these activities have on their health and posture. In most cases one is not aware of their body alignment in this state of none movement, causing the body to become deconditioned. Common postural imbalances from the above mentioned activities are rounded shoulders accompanied with a forward head and the classic anterior pelvic tilt. I will address how Pilates improves ones awareness of body alignment and ultimately assisting the modern man in achieving not only physical health but mental health too.
Pilates develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit. –Joseph Pilates
The human body is amazingly diverse and complex and its functioning has often been described as a kinetic chain. This can be understood by imagining a chain with links that overlap at each end; these interlocking joints would create a system that would allow the movement of one joint to affect the movement of another joint within the kinetic chain.
Just like the links in a chain are connected, so are the muscles and bones of the human body and being in a seated position for extended periods of time without being conscious as to how one is sitting, leads to various imbalances along the chain. These imbalances place excessive stress on bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. This is why ideal alignment is central to the Pilates method as it affects every exercise, movement and decision within a session. Therefore ones goal should be to strive for ideal alignment, which can be described in terms of a plumb line – imagine a suspended cord with a weight at the bottom that provides an absolute vertical line. We use the ‘plumb line’ from a side view starting at the earlobe, through the shoulder joint, midway through the trunk and through the greater trochanter of the femur. It then passes slightly anterior to the mid-line of the knee and just in front of the ankle. Ideal posture should also be viewed from a posterior and anterior view noticing any deviations in the coronal plane concerning the positioning of the head, shoulders, trunk, pelvis, knees and feet. When using the plumb line common sources of faulty alignment are seen when there is an exaggeration of the curvature in a given region of the spine.
How does Pilates Help??
I wanted to improve my posture both in and out of the studio. I knew that an improved posture would lead to better muscular balance, less pain, correct movement and on the emotional side, improved self confidence and body awareness.
Pilates has this incredible effect on people and one cannot help fall in love with it’s many and far reaching benefits. I was drawn to Pilates straight out of school and it has not been until recently that I have fully grasped the principles and core values of the method. I am grateful I decided to do the course at a later stage in my life as I only now feel I appreciate the effects and results Pilates can offer people. Society is in far too much of a rush and we take for granted our bodies that function so perfectly in their own ways. I strongly feel that the modern man is not aware of or fully comprehends the lasting effects bad posture has on their health and well being.
The negative effect on ones body may start small but if not properly taken care of, will ripple effect creating numerous aches and pains. Bad posture has been linked to back, shoulder and neck pain and being in the slouched position places pressure on the thoracic region, which can reduce ones lung function. It also places undue stress on ones bones and joints and the pain can eventually work its way up the spine leading to tension headaches.
Good posture takes unnecessary stress off the spinal column and allows it to act more efficiently as a shock absorbed as we make our way through this fast paced world. Not only do people experience relief from general pain, but they also have this air of confidence about them. As a BASI Pilates Instructor I hope to help people connect their mind with their body and teach them to take the principles of Pilates from the studio into the world and apply it into their daily lives.
There is no far greater feeling in the world then being able to assist someone in walking through life physically, mentally and spiritually fit and radiant.