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Correct Your Posture With Pilates

pilates for posture image

Article by Julie Clifton of the Pilates Foundation

We all know that first impressions count but it might surprise you to hear that one of the first things people notice about you is your posture.

Celebrities of a certain age have all declared themselves devotees

How you hold yourself when you walk into a room sparks off an instant response from others about you – from assessing your confidence to giving an idea of your age. In fact, there’s nothing that makes you look older more quickly than a heavy step, a jutting chin and the pot belly caused by the long curve in your spine.

Pilates is a form of exercise which concentrates on balance and alignment and can give you that sexy stride which will make you look and feel more confident.  Celebrities of a certain age have all declared themselves devotees of the method including 007 girl Honor Blackman and Sting’s wife Trudi Styler.  No doubt they have seen for themselves the effects of a regular, well taught class – a toned physique, improved posture and less stress on your joints as a result. Plus, by improving your posture you can even seem a couple of inches taller as your spine opens and the muscles around it lengthen – think instant height without the heels!

A good Pilates class will include lengthening, strengthening and balance exercises. It may look easy when you see other people doing it, but when you try it yourself you’ll realise that it takes concentration and control to master the subtle movements.

Try these quick checks to see how good your posture is:

pilates for posture image
Wear something close fitting like leggings and a t-shirt and stand in front of a full length mirror. Don’t cheat, just stand the way that you would if you were in the queue at the supermarket.

First of all notice how the weight is spread over your feet – is it even through both feet or more to one side, is it all on your toes or your heels, is it on the inside of your foot or the outside? Good posture needs you to have your weight evenly distributed throughout your feet, if it’s not you’ll be putting a strain on your spine.  Think of the feet as the foundations for your new way of standing.

Now think about your knees – are they locked or bent, or nicely straight while still relaxed?

Turn sideways on to the mirror and look at the shape of your spine. Is it flat and straight, or is it an exaggerated S shaped curve? Does your chin poke forward, does your belly curve out to match the deep curve in your lower back? Ideally you should have gentle curves in your back. If you dropped a plumb line from just behind your ear it would pass through the middle of your shoulder, hip and knees and reach the floor just behind your ankle bone.

Shoulders – now notice which way the palms of your hands face as your arms hang loosely down by your sides. If they face the sides of your thighs your shoulders are pretty straight, but if they’re facing behind you, it means that your shoulders are rotating inwards. Look at your self front on, is one shoulder higher than the other?

Look and feel younger

Good Pilates classes will help you improve your posture and make you look and feel younger. You’ll need to do about ten sessions before you start feeling the difference, but from then on you’ll be hooked!

Julie Clifton

Julie Clifton is writing on behalf of the Pilates Foundation

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