4 Reasons To Start Including Pilates In Your Daily Routine

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Many of us spend our weekdays slumped over a computer, sometimes for hours at a time without moving. If you’ve ever thought that your posture could be the cause of those annoying niggles, aches and pains… then according to Chloe Hodgson, one of London’s leading Pilates instructors, you could be right!

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Image: Chloe’s Pilates

According to Chloe, the main postural alignments fall under four categories: kyphosis/lordosis, sway-back, flat-back, and ideal alignment. Most of us fall into one of the categories outside the ideal alignment, which means that incorporating a daily Pilates practice could make some major improvements!

“The precise and controlled movements incorporated into Pilates, target specific muscles, especially the local stabilising muscles, which all work to improve posture and balance”, says Chloe.

“Pilates is a fantastic way to build your body’s overall strength in a safe and controlled way.”

Chloe offers some everyday tips which, using the principles of Pilates, can help to improve each of these four conditions, and create ideal alignment.

Kyphosis:

Our bodies often spend too much time hunched over, in front of television or a computer. Kyphosis (or ‘hunchback’) is an unbalanced posture that can cause neck and back pain. The head is pushed forward and the upper back is rounded, increasing flexion of the thoracic spine.

Chloe’s Everyday Tips to Help Correction:

1. Stretch the chest muscles
2. Think about gently drawing shoulders back and down
3. Strengthen the rhomboid muscles by squeezing your shoulder blades together
4. Stretch the hip flexors, quads and gluteal muscles
5. Ensure your desk and chair set up is correct

Lordosis:

This posture exaggerates the lower back and the pelvis is tipping forward. It puts pressure on the spine and causes pain. It can also cause hyper extension in the knees, tight lower back muscles, weak hamstrings, and tight hip flexors.

Chloe’s Everyday Tips to Help Correction:

1. Strengthen the hamstrings, glutes and core muscles
2. Stretch hip flexors and lower back
3. Think about slightly tucking the tail bone under when standing
4. Strengthening core muscles to strengthen the lower back

Sway-back:

Sway-back differs slightly from Lordosis, in that the pelvis is posterially tilted and the knee joints are hyper extended. The lower back is also flatter.

Chloe’s Everyday Tips to Help Correction:

1. Stretch the lower and upper back into extension
2. Think about sticking your tailbone out whilst standing
3. Stretch hip flexors, gluteal muscles and quads

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Image: Chloe’s Pilates

Flat-back:

The head is slightly held forward with this postural alignment. The upper part of the thoracic spine is flexed as the lower part is flexed. The hip and knee joints are also extended.

Chloe’s Everyday Tips to Help Correction:

1. Strengthen the hip flexors
2. Stretch hamstrings and calves
3. Stretch the thoracics and lower back in extension

Ideal Alignment:

After all this information, you’re now wondering what the “ideal posture” should feel like, and how it is achieved. The green line in the image below is called the “plumb line” – which ideally should pass through the ear lobe and straight down.

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When standing, imagine a piece of imagine a piece of string being pulled from the top of your head. Elongate your neck and slightly tuck your chin in. Shoulders should be down and relaxed with arms hanging naturally at the side of your body. Knees should be slightly soft with your tailbone slightly tucked under. If this feels unnatural/causes any pain or discomfort then it may be due to a number of anatomical problems which can be assessed and corrected by a professional.

Chloe is an independent, West London based, Stott Certified, Pilates teacher. She currently teaches clients of varying abilities at a private gym in Chelsea, London. She is also available to teach at a venue that suits you, whether it’s the comfort of your own home, your office or one of London’s beautiful parks. Every one of her sessions is carefully tailored to suit your ability and help you work towards your goals. 

Visit www.chloespilates.com for details about sessions with Chloe and to access her blog for advice and tips.

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