Pilates to Improve Posture - BASI Pilates - Teacher ...· Pilates to Improve Posture Daurie Maher

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Transcript of Pilates to Improve Posture - BASI Pilates - Teacher ...· Pilates to Improve Posture Daurie Maher

Pilates to Improve Posture

Daurie Maher

BASI Comprehensive Training

22 February 2015


Table of Contents

Abstract Page 2

Anatomical Posture Muscles Descriptions Page 3

Case Study Page 6

Exercise Program Page 8

Conclusion Page 11

Bibliography Page 12



Many adults who spend their days sitting at a computer and making long commutes to

and from work can develop curvature in regions of their spines because of the constant sitting

position. The issues that arise from sitting for such long periods of time include Kyphosis and

Cervical Lordosis both of which cause discomfort and can worsen over time. The consistent

practice of Pilates greatly increases flexibility and strength in the upper back and neck helping to

reduce muscle pain in those regions and improve overall posture. This case study examines

Sandy throughout a twelve-week program of practicing Pilates regularly in order to improve her

posture and decrease pain in her neck and shoulders.


Anatomical Posture Muscles Description

Kyphosis is the increased curvature of the thoracic spine that can lead to pain, discomfort

and other postural problems. Rounding of the shoulders and misalignment of the head and spine

generally accompany this condition.

The exaggerated curve in the upper back and shoulders causes tightening of the pectoralis

major and anterior deltoid. Tightening of these muscles result in little scapular stabilization and

weakening of the thoracic back extensors. To accommodate the deviation the head tends to trust

forward causing strained muscles of the posterior neck.


The thoracic extensors can be divided into three groups: the erector spinae, semispinalis,

and deep posterior spinal group. The erector spinae, the most powerful of the spinal extensors, is

made up of three columns: the spinalis, longissimus, and iliocostalis. Increasing the strength of

the thoracic extensors and stretching the anterior shoulder muscles can greatly improve the

tendency for slumped, upper back posture.


Cervical Lordosis is an exaggeration of the cervical curve of the cervical spine. The

spinal region of the neck is made up of 7 cervical vertebra that face the back of the neck in a

curved shape. A normal healthy cervical spine has a slight lordotic curve that is anatomically

important to bear the weight of the head. Because of the heads relatively heavy weight,

improper posture strains the muscles of the neck and causes them to pull on the cervical vertebra

to which they are attached. Prolonged pulling on the cervical spine disturbs the normal alignment

and can results in decreased range of motion and discomfort.

Deviation in the normal alignment of the spine can cause a myriad of conditions. Based

on the BASI Block System, the program set for Sandy is designed with the full body in mind

and will address her specific alignment deviations.


Case Study

Sandy is a fifty-one-year-old woman who commutes twenty-five minutes each way to

work. While at work she sits at a desk for extended periods throughout the day. Sandy talks on

the phone and types on a computer causing her shoulders to hunch and her neck to be strained.

Sandy had been taking Zumba classes consistently over the past four years. She had lost weight

and really enjoyed the classes until the pounding and jumping began to cause her additional back

pain. Sandys current activity routine consists of walking her large dog daily and playing with

her active two-year-old granddaughter.

Sandy has no Pilates experience, but was searching for something that could alleviate her

neck and upper back discomfort likely from sitting, driving and tilting her neck to hold the

telephone. Sandy has committed to attending private Pilates sessions two to three times per week

for twelve weeks. The exercises that were focused on sought to re-train her body to reduce the

strain on her joints and muscles. The main objective was correcting her overall posture and

improving the curvature in the upper thoracic back. To work on correcting her Kyphosis, the

biggest focus was strengthening her back extensors and adjusting her forward head posture to

create more desirable alignment. Other important objectives throughout the twelve weeks

included improved flexibility in Sandys hip flexors, the strengthening of her abdominals and

increasing her endurance. In addition, recent health concerns gave Sandy the need to feel a

stronger connection between her body and mind to aid with stress management and to achieve an

overall sense of well-being.

Sandys conditioning program for the first six weeks focuses on movement, stretching

and strength. Each lesson starts with a Roll Down to focus her mind and body and to make her


more aware of her bodys imbalances. Sitting Upper Back Press with arms overhead is used to

stretch her chest muscles also adding a stretch through the shoulders and thoracic back. A

Fundamental Mat work follows, including Pelvic Curls and Supine Spine Twist to warm up her

spine, hamstrings and hip flexors. Next, Chest Lifts, making connection with the rectus

abdominus and transverse abdominus while noting scapular stabilization. Leg Lifts and Leg

Changes awaken her abdominals to aid in stabilization of her pelvis and low back.

Basic Footwork on the Reformer is continued throughout her twelve week conditioning

program, increasing resistance as she gains the ability for proper foot position, engage the inner

thigh, and maintain pelvic lumbar stabilization. The Reformer is also used to strengthen her

abdominals starting with Hundred Prep with legs in tabletop and progressing to Hundreds. After

abdominals she continues on the Reformer with Hip Work, her feet in the straps, focusing on

gaining full range of motion in the hip flexors while strengthening her adductors and hamstrings,

encouraging pelvic stability.

In Sandys first lessons her Spinal Articulation movement includes Roll Like a Ball. As

she progresses, she moves to Spinal Articulation on the Reformer with Bottom Lift to strengthen

the abdominals and hamstrings. Adding Extensions to Bottom Lift causes her to focus and work

on deeper spine mobility. Stretching with Standing Lunge gives Sandy both a hip flexor and

hamstring stretch with added back extensor engagement.

Full Body Integration begins with Elephant to open up the spine and increase back

extensor length and abdominal strength while encouraging scapular stabilization. Moving to Up

Stretch 1, Scooter and Reverse Knee Stretch in later weeks for increase challenge. Arm Work on

the Reformer alternates between Sitting and Supine Series and continues until graduating to

Arms Kneeling and Arms Standing on the Cadillac.


It is important for Sandy to strengthen her inner thighs with the Magic Circle Sitting

Series on the Box then progress to Single Leg Skate on the Reformer. For Lateral Flexion and

Rotation, Mermaid further develops mobility of the spine. Swimming on the Mat helps Sandy

with coordination and cross patterning of her upper and lower body to strengthen over all.

During her program she also trained in Backstroke Prep, Pulling Straps Series and Swan Basic

on the Wunda Chair.

Exercise Program

BLOCK EXERCISES Weeks 1 - 3 Weeks 4 - 6 Weeks 7 - 9 Weeks 10 - 12 Roll Down Roll Down Roll Down Roll Down

Warm Up Mat: Mat: Mat: Mat: Pelvic Curl Pelvic Curl Pelvic Curl Pelvic Curl Spine Twist Supine Spine Twist Supine Sitting Spine Twist Sitting Spine Twist Chest Lift Chest Lift Chest Lift

Chest Lift with

Rotation Chest Lift with

Rotation Chest Lift with


Single Leg Lift/Leg

Changes Single Leg Lift/Leg


Footwork Reformer: Reformer: Reformer: Reformer: Heels Heels Heels Heels Toes Toes Toes Toes V V V V Wide Heels Wide Heels Wide Heels Wide Heels Wide Toes Wide Toes Wide Toes Wide Toes Calf Raises Calf Raises Calf Raises Calf Raises Prances Prances Prances Prances

Single Leg Heel/Toes

Single Leg Heel/Toes

Single Leg Heel/Toes

Single Leg Heel/Toes


BLOCK EXERCISES Hip Work Reformer: Reformer: Reformer: Reformer:

Frog Frog Frog Frog Circles Down Circles Down Circles Down Circles Down Circles Up Circles Up Circles Up Circles Up Openings Extended Frog Extended Frog Extended Frog

Spinal Mat: Mat: Reformer: Reformer: Articulation Rolling like a ball Spine Stretch Bottom Lift Bottom Lift

Spine Stretch Bottom Lift Extensions

Bottom Lift Exensions

Reformer: or or Bottom Lift Wunda Chair: Wuda Chair Pelvic Curl Pelvic Curl

Stretches Reformer: Reformer: Reformer: Reformer:

Shoulder Stretch

w/Pole Shoulder Stretch

w/Pole Standing Lunge Standing Lunge Standing Lunge Standing Lunge Side Split Side Split Side Split