Walk the PILATES way…
One of my all time favourites since starting my Pilates journey has been learning to WALK the PILATES way. If you are wondering what I am referring to it’s the essence of walking tall and being mindful of my posture as I walk.
Using all of the Pilates principles you can achieve a sense of feeling taller, looking taller and creating that length in your spine and body that it often craves, but is lacking.
The majority of us spend long periods of time sat statically or stood statically in an awkward posture that see our spine shrink and adopt the classic “C” shaped coach potato curve. This is a bad habit we all sink into with modern society and comfy chairs that are not designed to help us sit up straight.
It’s not until we change position or try to move that those awkward positions and postures catch up with us. This may be in the form of a dull ache, a sharp twinge or full on muscle spasms with or without referred arm or leg pains.
This is why physiotherapists often use the phrase HURT DOES NOT MEAN HARM. The hurt you feel when you move is often good for your body and will gradually ease with more movement. Often what people believe about their bodies is what inhibits progress.
Listen to your body… if it’s aching MOVE it, if it’s numb MOVE it, if it’s in agony should have moved it sooner. Time to go see a healthcare professional!
Pilates empowers you to recognise bad postural positions and habits. You take this knowledge away from your mat and use it functionally to truly appreciate the magic of movement and postural awareness that Pilates teaches you.
When Joseph Pilates created this form of exercise, he id it based on theories of movement control. He observed and studied movement in small children and animals to watch exactly how they learn to move.
Our bodies were designed to MOVE, not stay still for long periods of time.
So HOW do we walk the PILATES way?
This all links to your posture when you are walking and how you are holding yourself.
Do you ever tune into HOW you are walking?
Those people who talk down the street with good posture ooze body confidence, great self esteem and send out positive vibrations of immense self worth.
These people are body conscious aware of their posture and mindful or how they are walking. They are tuned in.
You can get a great workout walking and being mindful of how you are holding and moving your body.
Here are the main points to consider…
1. WALK TALL
Imagine a helium balloon floating your head up off your shoulders and feel the length that it creates in your spine.
This will allow your spine to lengthen and a create a lovely sense of stretch. Our spine’s often crave this lengthening but when statically held in long posture. gravity often wins and we tend to develop a bent over posture.
Equally let your tailbone sink down towards the floor. This creates that lengthening feeling even more and gives your spine an element of traction. Creating more space for your discs between each bony vertebra, allows them to hydrate and function optimally.
2. OPEN YOUR COLLAR BONES WIDE
Imagine smiling through your collar bones to feel and find this stretch.
Stop rounding those shoulders forwards, open them up and feel a lovely sense of space across the front of your chest. Allow your body to OPEN.
This helps tight chest muscles to relax and lengthen. It allows you to breath more efficiently and can help reduce shoulder and neck joint or muscle pains.
3. MELT THOSE SHOULDERS AWAY FROM YOUR EARS
Slide your shoulder blades down your back. Imagine a waterfall cascading them down.
We often hold tension in our upper shoulder muscles and this often results in our shoulder sat up in our ears.
Aches and pains in our bodies are often associated with muscles being weak, however, in this case, it is due to muscles being SHORT and TIGHT. Lengthening out tight muscles is often harder than strengthening weak muscles as trying to relax something tight is very difficult to do.
4. CHECK YOUR HEAD IS ON TOP OF YOUR BODY
Yes I know, of course your head is on top of your body BUT is it in front of your body?
Bring your ears in line with your collar bones to double check. A head held forwards is super heavy and can lead to tension headaches, sore shoulders and the rest. Having your head forwards will undoubtedly undo all the hard work of points 2 and 3 mentioned above.
5. KEEP YOUR RIBCAGE ALIGNED ABOVE YOUR PELVIS
If we slide our hands from our ribcage down it should sit directly on top of our pelvis. If we suffer with low back pain it can sometimes be due to a forwards placed ribcage. This in turn exacerbates the curve in our lower back inwards increasing the “lumbar lordosis”. This often sees our bottom sticking our also. Think back to point 1 and lengthen your tailbone down towards the floor.
With your ribcage, imagine springs attached to your front bottom ribs and attach them to the front of your pelvis. Allow those imaginary springs to tension slightly and keep your ribcage aligned directly above your pelvis.
When you have mastered the postural points – you can then add in recruiting your lower tummy muscles or pelvic floor muscles to give you that extra sense of body empowerment.
These should be gently held at around 30% of their maximum hold as they are postural muscles. You should never contract them 100% for functional use. They are background muscles designed to “hum”away without the need for excessive pulling in.
When you walk tall and apply the Pilates principles of posture then you to will experience that sense of length, gorgeous space that allows you to feel better.
Pilates isn’t something you just practise on your mat.
It’s purpose and principles should be applied functionally in all our day to day movements.
FIND your core. FEEL your core. Be your core.
If you are struggling to understand the principles of Pilates or cant feel or find your own core stability muscles – then be reassured they are still there. I have an online programme written exactly to help you rediscover your natural corset muscles in the comfort of your own home that you can refer to as often as you need to.
For more information please visit CONFIDENT CORE.
Fab fab fab info Marie which I’ll use personally & also in my new job which includes promoting health & wellbeing. I feel a tad guilty that I frequently use advice from your wonderful site but I haven’t yet managed to get back to work/practice with you! This in part is to do with starting my new job. It’s my 1st post as a qualified OT & I’m the only OT. It’s a role emerging post for our profession. I’m terrifyingly excited & busy impersonating a swan as I try to look serene/confident on the surface whilst peddling like mad underneath! Rehab plays a big part & we’ve got no Physio’s so your advice is priceless. Anyway I hope you have a fab time in Australia. Thanks again & pse keep writing when you can. Xx
Thank you Lisa for your lovely kind words – it’s so nice to hear that my blogs are helpful to others and my messages are being shared – thank you for doing that. Good luck in your new job – it sounds very exciting and I totally get the nerves but they will get easier the more you get into the swing of the role I’m sure. Australia was amazing thank you. I’m definitely going to keep writing once every 3 weeks until October and beyond if possible depending on the nature of the baby! Wish me luck, lol x