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Q: Everyone is talking about how “sitting is the new smoking” and it has made me think about the Pilates programming I do with my clients. Many of them sit at desks all day, so I've been incorporating a lot more spinal extension as well as Matwork and equipment-based exercise than I was originally taught in the traditional series.
It seems to make clients more aware of their posture and stronger in their mid and upper-back areas – do you think this particular emphasis can be harmful in the long run?
A: The goal of any Pilates program is to rebalance the muscles around each joint and restore the body to an optimal level of postural stability and functional mobility. Many of us create less than ideal postures or movement patterns based on our habits or daily activities. STOTT PILATES® students are taught to look at both dynamic and static postures to determine the best programming options for each individual to help these imbalances or dysfunctions. If a client spends a large part of the day hunched over a computer with the thoracic spine flexed, the head protracted forward and the shoulders rounded, this could become a habitual posture that follows them around through life.
A carefully designed Pilates program can help bring greater awareness to their posture, strengthen muscles that may have become lengthened and weak and lengthen those that may have become tight. As long as the program focuses energy on all sides of the joints – including the spine – the body will begin to move more efficiently. Remember that BALANCE is the key.