One of the most important principles in Pilates is good posture. Good posture alleviates pressure on the spine and allows the ligaments, muscles and the skeleton to function symmetrically and optimally. Proper functioning of the joints and muscles makes moving easier as it allows the correct group of muscles to work and does not overwork the compensatory muscle groups. Therefore moving requires less energy – easier, more efficient movement.
The spine bears the brunt of pressure placed on the body by gravity, loading (picking up weight), movement etc. Compared to a neutral spine or neutral posture when standing, sitting raises the amount of pressure by 40%. Slouching while sitting raises it up to 90%. Bending forward with a rounded spine raises the pressure with a whopping 120%.
This increased pressure causes a lot of wear and tear on the discs and they lose their natural ability to cushion and act as shock absorbers. The ligaments and muscles in the spine become overstretched from poor posture and the blood supply is interrupted. The overstretched muscles and ligaments become weak and locked and can eventually not hold the disc in alignment. The disc then gets squeezed out at the back of the spine. This is referred to as a bulging or herniated disc. This in turn causes even more serious problems because it increases the pressure on the spinal cord as well as the nerves running in the spinal column. Damage to the nerves cause pain and a smorgasbord of other problems in the arms, shoulders, neck and legs. It prevents proper stimulation from the brain to the nerve, causing difficulty in moving the related muscle and body part therefore affecting movement patterns. It badly affects the perception and sensations of pressure, pain, and temperature.
Below are some examples of the havoc that poor posture wreaks on your spine.
So, for a healthy spine, become aware of your posture! Oh, and come to Pilates to improve it.
My Pilates Instructor in Muckleneuk, Pretoria.