When we’ve spent years slouching in our seats, thrusting our hips forward while holding our kids, leaning over to rest on one leg when standing, and perpetually staring down at our phone screens, the thought of optimising our posture for the long-term can feel like an impossible task – especially when the ‘good’ posture feels awkward and unnatural at first.
The good news is that Pilates is proven to positively impact postural alignment – and importantly the painful, lingering and cumulative consequences they have on your body. Today, we’re sharing how and why Pilates may be the answer you’ve been looking for to help counteract your bad posture habits – and why it’s more important now than ever before. But first, an important note on the real impact of bad posture.
The True Impact Of Bad Posture
The effects of poor posture are cumulative and progressive, meaning they’ll simply keep compounding over time if they’re not addressed. What may start as a slight niggle in your back can slowly deteriorate, causing muscles to spasm and inflamming the surrounding tissues and giving you that frustrating and seemingly never-ending back pain. Looking locally, 42% of the population of Hong Kong had suffered back pain within the past year when 10,000 residents were surveyed over two decades ago, and with the heavy uptake of smartphones and computers since, we would safely bet that these statistics are even higher at present.
While spine curvature, back and neck pain are fairly well-known consequences of bad posture, there are plenty more that are less talked about. According to Harvard Health, these include poor balance, headaches, breathing difficulties, incontinence, heartburn, slowed digestion and constipation – with research being carried out to see if mood, sleep, fatigue, and jaw alignment may also be impacted. These are serious consequences, given that for the majority of people, postural problems are preventable – or manageable.
How Pilates Helps Counter Bad Posture
The principles of Pilates date back to the 1920’s, offering both mind and body benefits by focusing on a person’s unique core stability, strength, balance, control – and in this case, how these are linked to your current posture. Pilates at PhysioCentral always asks how these elements can be optimised to promote and enable better posture in a range of situations – at work, when sitting, standing – whichever situations the demands of your daily life put you in.
We have two options for Pilates at PhysioCentral:
1. Our one-on-one sessions are taught by a fully qualified physiotherapist who conducts a comprehensive assessment to understand your postural problems, pinpointing the causes of any pains you’re experiencing, and where any weaknesses lie. This really is key – doing the right targeted exercises in the right way for you, the postural challenges you’re currently facing, your vulnerabilities, and your unique circumstances. This is where having a physiotherapist who has extensive knowledge of how your musculoskeletal system works is vital to your long-term success and pain-free living.
2. Our one-on-one, or small group sessions (3 people maximum), taught by certified Pilates Practitioners can help you reach goals – like developing a better posture. These sessions are also tailored to you and are delivered carefully to help you with body awareness, mindfulness and control. The main difference is that these sessions aren’t focused on treating an injury or rehabilitation, but on refining and optimising how you move and use your body. These sessions are often accompanied by a unique exercise plan to help you reach your goals, and many of our patients often progress onto these sessions after they’ve had pains or injuries rehabilitated with their physio, continuing to retain their benefits.
Our Pilates exercises are performed using reformers, trapeze tables and other specialised equipment like Wunda chairs, with the goal being to restore the strength and function you need for optimal posture, and then teaching you what this posture looks and feels like for you.
Generally speaking, Pilates also has a range of benefits, including helping:
- Relax tight, stiff muscles – like those that may be promoting a hunched shoulder position. This promotes flexibility which enables optimal movement
- Strengthen weakened muscles – giving you the strength to comfortably maintain optimal postures, instead of reverting to poor postures when your muscles fatigue
- Improve your core strength – a strong core helps to optimise all your movement, including that of a long, well-positioned spine
- Your breathing control – mindfully taking longer deeper breaths, easing the tension on our chest and neck muscles which are often engaged in shallow breathing, leading to tension
- Learn better body alignment – as the moves you perform are taught and reinforced with healthy postural principles, you learn how to best control your postures in a range of circumstances and positions
- Optimise not just your physical but mental health – because it feels great to not be suffering from ongoing aches and pains
Pilates Isn’t Just For Adults
Research tells us that early adolescence is found to be a critical period where many establish inadequate sitting and sleeping postures, which may then lead to consequences in adulthood. This is why Pilates and postural assessments are recommended for all ages.
Is Your Posture Causing You Pain?
Our experienced physiotherapy team at PhysioCentral treat a wide range of musculoskeletal problems – and when we dive deep to understand the cause of these problems for our patients, poor posture is often a contributing factor. If you know that your posture is causing your pain or discomfort – or you want to get those bad postural habits sorted so you can avoid pain and all the challenges it brings, we’re here to help.
Book your appointment with our fantastic team by calling +852 2801.4801 or book your appointment online.