Is poor posture the defining issue of the 21st Century?
Let's look at the sedentary lifestyle many people have these days. They spend hours and hours every day sitting at a desk working on a computer or glued to their smart phone.
Their shoulders are hunched, rounded and rolled forward. Let's call this "a desk posture".
In this posture, the muscles in the front of the upper body and the chest are tight and short drawing the shoulders forward. While in the upper back, the muscles are long and weak allowing the shoulders to be drawn forward and the upper back to arch.
Desk posture has a number of impacts on the human body:
it can lead to neck and shoulder issues, tightness in the upper back, and pain in any of these areas
Performance wise it will impact an athlete's ability to breathe efficiently, thereby restricting their ability to perform at an optimal level. Furthermore, it reduces range of motion at the shoulder which impacts swimming stroke and the arm carry in the run. It can also impact stability of the shoulder girdle which leads to loss of power and pain.
Often athletes are unaware that they even have a muscle imbalance in their shoulders and upper back.
Pilates is great to fix the desk posture, as it focuses on developing core strength and stability, strengthening the muscles in the upper back, while also lengthening the muscles in the front of the chest - it helps to "reverse the curve".
The other major benefit of Pilates is that it requires the athlete to work through all of the planes of motion. By working in extension, flexion, rotation and lateral flexion, they are mobilising and strengthening all of these upper body muscles, bringing the body back into balance. The result is more power, less pain and reduced injuries.