Lifestyle factors can often play a leading role in affecting our posture through repetition of certain movements, daily activities and force of habit.
A carefully designed programme aimed at stretching out the muscles that are tight and strengthening the muscles that are weak, along with re-educating clients on how they should stand in the correct alignment will be extremely effective for some, dependent upon the posture type, severity of the posture and cause.
Kyphosis is the result of an excessive thoracic curve and can often be influenced by our lifestyle such as sitting at a desk all day, working at a computer or maybe driving for long periods of time. It is also common in people with obesity, very tall people and the elderly. Typically the head is held forward and the cervical spine is hyper-extended. The thoracic spine has increased flexion causing the pectoral muscles to be tight and the intercostal muscles to be shortened. This can be addressed by providing a programme to increase spinal mobility, to give strength to the posterior deltoid and trapezius as well as stretch out through the neck extensors and chest.
Pilates exercises such as:
Lordosis is where the lower back has an excessive curvature. This is commonly found in gymnasts, dancers and people who do specific sports that encourage lumbar hyper extension such as javelin and butterfly stroke. It may also develop through pregnancy or obesity. Generally the pelvic tilts anteriorly causing the hip to be in flexion. This will cause the hip flexors to be tight and possibly the adductors too. The rectus abdominus would be long and weak and the gluteals are typically weak with poor tone. If the posture type is severe then there may be a possibility that the hamstrings would take over the work of the glutes, causing them to also be tight. The lumbar spine is in hyper extension and therefore the lower back erectors will be strong and tight and the knees may be hyper extended.
A balance of stretching and strengthening exercises are needed to address this postural type as well as focus on articulation and mobility of the spine through posterior tilting of the pelvis. To achieve this you should include hip flexor stretches, adductor stretches and hamstring stretches (if needed) along with exercises to strengthen the glutes, rectus abdominus and to mobilise the spine.
Appropriate Pilates exercises could include:
We hope this information and suggested exercises will help your exercise choice when planning your next Pilates class for any participants that have these described spine shapes.
Written by Jo Curran.
Have you considered expanding your Pilates skillset? Why not have a look at our Pilates for Common Orthopaedic Conditions online course.