a couple of weeks ago

How to Do Pilates Without Hurting Your Neck

Pilates! You’ve heard it’s amazing and it’s the “cure all” of all physical ailments. Having been a Pilates instructor for over 14 years now, I can tell you it’s a  and amazing gift that I love to give people. The mind body awareness, the muscle activation, the targeted flexibility training; these all contribute to a perfect batch of feel good movement principles and also get people coming back for more.

However, as you may or may not know, I am extremely passionate about not doing “excessive crunches” in any exercise routine. I explain why and you can read more here.

When Joseph Pilates was around ( he died in 1967 at the age of 83), the posture problems we have today didn’t exist. His repertoire included a lot of “crunch” type exercises that would now place excessive strain on necks that are already compromised from technology lifestyles. So it’s really important to modify and adapt to our changing culture, environment and bodies.

So today, I will present a few exercise that come from the Pilates method, but that I’ve adapted to be performed with the head down. It’s simple to make this change in order to take pressure off a misaligned cervical spine.  Even with the adaptations, these exercises are still difficult but valuable exercises to perform. Let’s take a look at 2 exercises in the “series of 5” from the original Pilates repertoire.

Single Leg Stretch:

This exercise challenges the core and hip flexors. Not all teachers cue it this way, but I prefer it when the knees stay directly above the hip joint and don’t come in towards the chest.  I find this to be more challenging for the core and helps to build strength while maintaining a neutral pelvis (bringing the leg in close will push the pelvis into a tuck position). In my variation, the head is down and the focus is on the leg extension, the knee position, and the breathing:

Double Leg Stretch:

This one is harder than the single leg stretch because extending both legs out can be very challenging  for the core. The biggest mistake here is to lower the legs too far down when the legs extend, which makes it very difficult and often cause the lower back  to arch. The goal is to extend the legs straight and find a position where it’s challenging on the core and also maintain the neutral pelvis position. The knees should also begin and end in the tabletop position (where the knees are directly above the hips). When they come in to the chest, it gives the abdominals a break and again, creates a “tucked” pelvis.

These exercises are an example of true “posture pilates” at it’s finest! It’s a variation that maximizes the benefits and minimizes the possible injuries. Let me know how they feel.  Are you able to feel your core?

 

last month

Can Sports Apparel Improve Posture?

Today’s post is a guest post by Ivy Harper.  She takes an in depth look at sports apparel, and it’s potential to improve posture:

Proper posture gets a lot of attention in the world of sports, as poor body alignment can cause serious consequences in training or during a game. However, it doesn’t come naturally for many people especially with the nature of most jobs, and even athletes need some help. One exciting innovation that sports scientists have made are posture-correcting shirts that can improve sports performance.

Text neck

Image Source: Unsplash

A term coined by chiropractor Dean Fishman, ‘text neck’ is the pain felt in the cervical spine after slouching too much from looking at a mobile device. The human head weighs 10 pounds on average, but can feel as if it weighs up to 60 pounds depending on the angle of the neck when it is bent. This puts a lot of strain on the spine especially on the neck and the upper back.

Bad posture is an occupational hazard for athletes. They can also suffer from the syndrome, especially with lots of hours spent on the road and reviewing their performance on tape. Aside from these sedentary habits, Very Well Health adds that muscle imbalance, fatigue, and injuries lead to improper posture. Muscle spasms, for example, tend to weaken the damaged area over time, throwing the body out of symmetry. On the other hand, some athletes have a tendency to overwork the side of the body that they use the most and neglect the other—like a quarterback’s throwing arm. It can also put the alignment out of whack.

Posture shirts

Image Source: AlignMed Facebook

Posture shirts are not your average compression shirt as they’re considered medical devices. One of the more known brands is AlignMed which many athletes are starting to use. They include Kansas City Royals pitcher Greg Holland, and Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard, who uses it under his jersey. Although it is still a compression shirt, the AlignMed posture shirt is fitted with ‘neurobands’ that activate the muscle groups around the spine, particularly around the shoulders. When the neuroband technology senses even the slightest rounding of the back, it stimulates the muscles so that you can snap right back to proper posture. It’s similar to the wearable device Upright GO which we previously raved about here on VerticAlign. Posture shirts don’t do all the work but give you a literal tap on your shoulder (or your upper back) when your body is out of alignment.

Posture shirts

Image Source: Intelliskin Facebook

Aside from AlignMed’s posture shirt, other products have started popping up on the market as well. Underworks came up with their own version of the technology as well, with an additional band in the midsection to contract the abdominals.

Other sports teams and players have also looked into posture correcting technology by adding modifications to their apparel. In their article on the evolution of professional soccer kits, Coral details how Italy’s World Cup 2014 shirt had a special tape in the fabric that micro-massaged players. Its purpose was to speed up recovery and prevent muscle fatigue. This process helps avoid alignment issues.

Posture is extremely important in sports especially in terms of improving circulation, reducing pain, preventing injuries, and enhancing athletic performance. Right now, the science behind posture shirts still needs to be studied, especially its long term efficacy. However, testimonials from professionals look promising so it may not be a bad idea to invest in posture-correcting apparel.

Stay tuned for VerticAlign’s in-depth discussion of different posture correcting wearables. More products with such feature are still coming out on the market and they need to be put to the test!

VerticAlign Results- Meet Kelly!

It’s time for some VerticAlign results.  Meet Kelly:

Kelly is a successful business owner but with her thriving business, she works long hours at her desk. She had intense neck pain that would often debilitate her, interrupt her sleep and slow her down in staying active. She tried massage and chiropractic care, but would get only limited short term results. 

Kelly completed 2 rounds (16 weeks) of the 8 week custom coaching program, and not only did her pain decrease considerably, she learned a lot about her body and was able to progress her workouts and see some incredible visual results as well.

She didn’t lose much on the scale, but her improved posture made her look more tone and lean.

Kelly was one of the most committed VerticAlign’s clients. She did her routine every day. She would also ask in depth questions during her video sessions to make sure she was completing her exercises effectively.  We are so impressed with her results!

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