Solving the Posture Problem; Part two

by pilates32 on March 5, 2011

[dropcap1]F[/dropcap1]ollowing the neutral spine test, you may have discovered one of three things about your own posture. Either the space between your lower back and the wall was too small, too big or just about right (please refer to part one of this series for instructions on how to perform this test). Although this test is very simple and only demonstrates posture when static, it does offer many indicators of muscle imbalances and changes in muscle length which will affect our movement and the likelihood of injury later on.

Lack of training or equally; incorrect training can alter the length of muscles and the amount of tension they are under. When this imbalance occurs around the spine, it can result in an excessive tilt in our pelvis, either anteriorly (forwards) or posteriorly (backwards). Simply put, some muscles are weak or long, some are tight and short, pulling on the direction of our spine and pelvic placement. Now without a thorough assessment, it is not as simple to identify where the problem lies and consequently fix it immediately. But what we can do is identify the common types of posture problems, why they occur and how we can fix them.

The lordotic posture (lordosis) is characterised by an exaggerated lumbar curve. Put through a neutral spine test, this posture type would allow the hand to slide all the way under the lower back with ease. In most cases, the posture demonstrates an anterior tilt of the pelvis, stretched abdominal muscles at the stomach and probably a bum that sticks out (fashionable or not?). Why has the pelvis been allowed to tilt like this? Well like what was said earlier; incorrect or lack of training has caused muscles that originate or insert at the pelvis to become weak or too strong and have not remained balanced. In this case generally, the abdominals and obliques are weak and lengthened, as too are the gluteals (muscles in the butt). The hamstrings in the back of the leg may or may not be weak and in some cases overactive, but most certainly the lower back muscles, hip flexors and adductors are strong, short and overactive. The result of this entire imbalance is the forward tilt of the pelvis and the resultant posture pulled from neutral.

 

Why Solve It?

Well for now these problems may not be much of a problem. But not identifying it and beginning to solve it now, will only result in the short muscles becoming shorter and weaker ones weaker, and then suddenly you start suffering from back pains later on down the road. It is important to also realise, that a lot of movements that we carry out originate from the core and the spinal muscular region, where we get the term kinetic chain. So any issues here will begin to carry throughout the body to other areas. Take this example: An exaggerated anterior tilt of the pelvis can force the femur (thigh bone) to internally rotate, placing  stress on the lateral part of the thigh, in particular the vastus lateralis muscle and the tensor fascia latae (TFL) and iliotibial band (ITB). This can cause extreme stress on the knee and especially the cruciate ligaments. This effect can continue on through the tibia (Shin bone) and even as far down as the foot. So you could be having foot pain, all because your posture is out of sync!

The Solution

To manage and correct the lordotic posture, our overall goal is to bring the pelvis back into neutral alignment, reducing its anterior tilt. In simple words, we want to lift the front of it. This can be achieved by strengthening and shortening the abdominal muscles, increasing flexibility of the lower back extensors, hip flexors and hamstrings and finally strengthening the gluteals. Exercise examples for this would include the Gluteal Bridge, various Hamstring stretches, the roll-up and the hundred.

You will find with each Pilates32 video series, that many exercises are performed with many progressions, in all planes of motion, giving attention to all muscles and increasing both strength and flexibility equally. This in time will result in a balanced, neutral posture, as many of our clients have experienced themselves from following this method.  So I encourage you to increase your core strength and improve postural alignment before your find yourself injured and struggling to live a full and energised life.

In the next part of this blog post, I will discuss the other posture types and offer some insight in how to solve them and improve posture overall.

Author: Ian Harris

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

daigoumee May 3, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Superb blog post, I have book marked this internet site so ideally I’ll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future!

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pilates32 May 4, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I appreciate the comment, be sure to sign up and join this community. Much more to come for sure.
Big thanks……Ian

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