Posture is often judged by how someone walks, sits or stands, with good posture deemed as standing tall and straight, and bad posture as slouching in a chair; however there is a lot more to posture than meets the eye.
Good posture means that we have balanced “neutral” positions for our joints. To achieve this, our muscles must be functioning at their optimum, reducing stress on our joints and other supporting muscles. Good posture is important as it not only makes us look leaner and taller, but it means that our muscles are working together efficiently so that we are able to carry out our daily activities with ease.
Many of us experience poor posture, which occurs when our body’s joints are held outside of their optimal alignment. This is most often due to an imbalance in the muscles, when one side of the joint is tight and short and the other side, weak and lengthened. This results in chronic tension and discomfort in areas such as the neck, shoulders and lower back.
Stretching or massaging these tight areas can help to relieve symptoms, although while this has a short-term positive effect, it doesn’t address the underlying cause of the pain, which is poor alignment and a lack of strength in certain muscle groups.
Aside from the physical aspects of poor posture, other health issues can include:
- Poor breathing;
- Poor internal organ function including digestion;
- Poor circulation.
How can we improve our posture?
A problem that we face in today’s lifestyle, is that we are spending more time sedentary, whether it be seated in the office or at home, causing our joints to stiffen. Over time, our body adapts to this negative stress in much the same way our body adapts to positive movement.
The key to good posture and a healthy body is the simple task of movement, and the low-impact exercise, Pilates has become renowned internationally for fostering such benefits. As Pilates works across all muscle groups strengthening from the core right through to our hands and feet, it is particularly beneficial for developing optimal muscle movement and therefore improving posture.
Pilates exercises incorporate various strength and conditioning movements which aid flexibility and mobility, enhance alignment and improve muscle tone, and overall help us to look and feel better in life.