PILATES – Laying the Foundations

by Brigitte Aubery

Now that you’ve paused to breathe (read Septembers newsletter), let’s move onto the next essential basic principle of Pilates.  Postural Alignment.

Pilates exercises are specifically designed to re-train the body out of poor postural alignment.  Poor postural habits develop over a period of time, through lifestyle habits, or repetitive movement patterns or muscles that have become overused or under-utilised.  Correcting incorrect postural positioning requires practice and persistence in order to achieve the desired results.  With correct postural alignment you will find an improvement in balance and co-ordination as well as improved proprioception.  Changing poor postural habits is called neuro-muscular re-patterning where the body learns to use the muscles in a new and more efficient way.  Just take a moment to reflect what your posture says about you physically and mentally and how this has a boomerang effect on you mentally and physically.  Standing tall, makes one feel confident and proud, what does poor posture do or tell others about you?

Now that you understand how important correct postural alignment is, let’s determine what that is.  To keep it simple we will start with the spine.  Our backs have natural curves.  Take a look at yourself in the mirror, standing sideways.  You will notice that your neck, upper back and lower back all curve in a different way.  This is natural.  It is when these curves are excessive that it is not natural.  Have someone else look at your spine and answer the following questions about what they observe.

Does your chin poke forward?  Is there an exaggerated curve in the neck?  Is one ear closer to the shoulder than the other?  Also look at the muscles on either side of the neck – is one larger/longer than the other?

Does it look like your shoulders are rounded and curving forward?  Feel each shoulder blade – does one poke out more than the other?  Look at the shoulder muscles – are they equal on each side?  Is one shoulder higher than the other? Look at how the arms hang by your sides – does one arm hang lower than the other?

Is there an excessive curve in the lower back?  Look at the hips – are they level or is one higher than the other?  Now compare each side at the waist – is there a bigger curve on one side?  Observe the arms next to the body – is there more space between one arm and the waist than the other?

These are just some of the basic observations you can make which will give you an idea of your alignment.  There are many more pointers that we look for when doing a postural assessment.  Now just imagine how each of these postural discrepancies will have an effect on the rest of the body and how each of these can affect each other.  Take for example Roger’s article on the grip.  If you have restriction in your shoulders, or upper back this can have a direct affect on your grip and how you are able to maintain that grip throughout your swing.  Should you have poor postural mechanics you will have to compensate somewhere in the body in order to grip the golf club as you are meant to but this compensation will lead to compensation in your swing and possible injury or simply no improvement in your game as your body is unable to naturally find this grip.

So next time you are out on the range ask yourself how your posture is contributing to your game or restricting your movements and consider spending some time in the pilates studio so you can improve your grip.

Lengthen the spine
Brigitte Aubery
Master Pilates Instructor – KeNako
083 303 7732

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brigette aubery

Brigette Aubery