Alignment and Posture
Benefits of good posture:
- Pain relief throughout the body, including back and neck pain, hip pain, leg and foot pain
- Allows us to move efficiently
- Improves muscle function
- Increases range of motion
- Takes pressure off of compressed organs
- Improves circulation
- Creates a trimmer appearance
- Radiates an attitude of confidence
The body works as whole and when certain body region are inefficient, and then the body will find a way to make the movement happen using another muscle or joint in a way that was not intended.
Lower back, hip, knee and ankle problems can be affected by inefficient pelvic and/or hip stabilization. Muscles being weak or tight may contribute to the previous mentioned problems.
The muscles that play a great role in hip stabilization include gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, piriformis and deep core muscles.
The powerhouse is one of the most important concepts in Pilates training. In recent years, the term core strength, has become more well-known and is used somewhat interchangeably with powerhouse, but they are not exactly the same.
The powerhouse area of your body goes from the bottom of your ribs all the way to your hip line. It includes the diaphragm, the abdominal muscles, low back muscles, pelvic floor, muscles around the hips, and the glutes (butt muscles).
Powerhouse muscles work together to form a supportive corset for your trunk. They stabilize, but they also create the big moves we make. And they give those moves their dynamic strength.
The core muscles are part of the powerhouse set, and using your core is part of using your powerhouse. The core muscles are the deep stabilizers like the pelvic floor, the psoas, the multifidus, and the transversus abdominis, among others. But the core muscles are not the big movers like the rectus abdominis or glutes, that we add to the group when we talk about the powerhouse.
How do I breathe?
Pilates exercises require breathing very fully, maximising every breath to get rid of every bit of stale air. With full exhalation the empty lungs can then draw in lots of fresh air for the cells in the body. We want to oxygenate our blood, get our circulation going, and get the rejuvenating qualities that a deep breath delivers.
As one of the six Pilates principles, the breath is a foundation of Pilates movement. We frequently coordinate our exercises with inhale and exhale patterns, and use the breath to initiate and support movement.
Despite the focus on the breath in Pilates, some people feel a little "inhale deprived" when they start learning Pilates exercises. Keeping the abdominal muscles deeply pulled in, and taking a great big inhale at the same time, can seem like contradictory directions. But there is a special breathing technique we use in Pilates that allows us to maintain a contraction of the abs throughout an exercise. It is called, lateral breathing.
In lateral breathing we breathe deeply, all the way down the spine and into the pelvic bowl, but emphasize expanding the breath into the back and sides of the ribcage.
When the abs are pulled in properly, they protect the spine and act like a supportive corset for the whole trunk. Knowing how to breathe well while keeping the abs contracted gives us extra support throughout an exercise. As you practice lateral breathing, you will find that you are able to perform Pilates exercises with greater ease. It helps make the scoop of the abs easier and enhances the sense of lengthening the spine with the breath.
Breathing techniques can be complicated and distracting, so The MOST important thing to remember is to keep on BREATHING no matter what!