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Programming Pilates Exercises for Posture Types

by
author image Lisa Mercer
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.
Programming Pilates Exercises for Posture Types
Specialized Pilates programs may improve posture. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Pilates instructors often joke that while the technique does not burn a significant number of calories, it makes you look taller, so you appear to weigh less. The taller appearance comes from postural realignment, which is crucial to the Pilates technique. Postural assessment technique is an essential course in many Pilates certification programs. After analyzing their student's posture, teachers determine the appropriate program.

Assessment Techniques

Every Pilates posture program begins with a static and dynamic postural assessment. Static assessments, performed while the client stands upright, indicate which parts of the body fall behind or in front of an imaginary plumb line. The instructor views the client from the front, side and behind. While the static assessment is effective, the dynamic, or in-motion postural assessment tells the instructor more about the client's ability to maintain alignment while walking and performing functional tasks.

Thoracic Kyphosis

A forward head and a round upper back area characterize the thoracic kyphosis posture, explains certified trainer and Pilates instructor Marci Clark. The warm-ups featured in the Stott Pilates program address this issue. Lie supine with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor, and your hands by your sides. Inhale, keeping your hands on the floor as you slide your shoulders up toward your ears. Exhale and slide them back down, imagining that the space between your ears and shoulders increases each time. Perform 10 repetitions, then raise your straight arms toward the ceiling with your palms facing each other. Inhale and lift your shoulder blades off the mat. Exhale to return. Perform five repetitions. Then, inhale and squeeze your shoulder blades together, as if you had a pencil between them. Exhale and return.

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Lumbar Lordosis

People with lumbar lordosis tend to arch their lower backs. This posture type, explains certified trainer and Pilates instructor Martin McFadden, is characterized by tight back muscles that overcompensate for weak abdominals and gluteal muscles. Mobilizing the spine while engaging the core and gluteal muscles is the goal of this program. Begin on your hands and knees for the cat exercise. Inhale to prepare, and then exhale, draw your belly in, tilt your pelvis and round your upper back like a Halloween cat. Remain in position, keep your abdominal contracted and inhale. Exhale and return to the starting position. Perform 10 repetitions, then sit upright with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Inhale to prepare, then exhale, draw your belly in, round your lower back and form a "c-curve" with your spine. Inhale and hold the position with your belly tight. Exhale and return to the starting position.

Flat Back Posture

Joseph Pilates, according to the Pilates Method Alliance Position Paper, once said that the human spine should be flat like a newborn baby's. In fact, the flat lower back was once a fitness industry goal. Years later, in 2003, orthopedists such as M.M. Panjabi challenged this theory, explaining that the lumbar spine has a natural curve, which should not be destroyed. Correcting the flat back posture requires Pilates spinal extension exercise. The prone series includes exercises that lift and extend the lower body and upper body simultaneously.

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References

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