10 Pilates Positions That Improve Posture (And Make You Look Slimmer!)
Did you know there are certain exercises, that can tone and improve posture, to make you stand taller and look thinner?!
Practicing Pilates regularly is one of the easiest and most effective ways of achieving this. The team from Pepilates have put together the following six moves to help you improve your posture in a matter of weeks! As well as strengthening your core, Pilates is a full-body form of exercise so every part of your body is targeted. This is a great way to ease yourself into a ‘get fit’ regime for the big day…
A classic Pilates move designed to get your blood pumping and warm you up. If you struggle to make it to 100 then aim for 50 instead but make sure you focus on how your abdominals are engaged and your breathing.
- Place your legs in the tabletop position with your knees directly above your hip and shins parallel to the floor.
- Hover your arms right above your abdominal wall and start to pump your arms 6-8 inches up and down, taking deep breaths, inhaling for 5 counts, exhaling for 5 counts.
- Repeat 10 times, without taking a break.
- End the exercise by resting your head flat on the floor.
The saw is a fantastic move if you don’t like doing traditional abdominal exercises and can really assist with opening and stretching the shoulders and upper back while at the same time building strength.
- Sit up with your legs spread shoulder width apart
- With your arms straight out to your sides, twist to your left
- Stretch your right hand towards your left foot and pulse three times
- Roll up in the twist, untwist and return to the centre
- Repeat on the other side. Do this sequence 4-5 times
This exercise is great for the sides of your body, which rarely get used and can really help tone your waist. It can also help to relieve tension and lengthen out your body.
- Rest in your right hip in a seated position with your legs folded together to the left side, like a mermaid
- Place your left hand around your ankles and hold your right arm in the air, near to your ear
- Keeping your abdominals engaged, reach your right arm towards the ceiling and then out and over to the left, making sure your arm stays straight. You should feel a stretch along the right side of your body
- Repeat twice and then repeat on the opposite side
Rolling like a ball
This is a playful move and can really help to massage your back muscles while working your abs. The rounded shape of your spine can help teach you how to properly and effectively engage your core muscles while challenging them to work hard.
- Sit on the floor and pull your legs into your chest ensuring your elbows are out to the side and parallel to the ground
- Engaging your abdominals and using your feet to push yourself backwards, roll yourself back onto your shoulders
- Pause slightly at this top position and then roll back to your starting position
- Repeat 10 times
Rowing exercise with resistance band
Rounded shoulders are often caused by spending hours hunched over at a desk or computer, watching TV or performing repetitive tasks. In these forward reaching positions your chest, shoulders and hip muscles become short and tight and the upper and middle back muscles become weak. You can improve your posture by strengthening the weak upper back muscles by performing rowing exercises with a resistance band. This will help the chest become more flexible and the shoulders naturally pull back.
- Sit on floor with knees slightly bent, feet hip-width apart. Keep back straight, abs engaged, heels on the floor.
- Loop resistance band around the soles of the feet, then cross the ends over the shins so right hand holds left handle etc.
- Exhale; pull hands towards chest so elbows and fists are at or near shoulder level, pinching shoulder blades together at the end of the movement.
- Inhale and return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.
When performed properly, the reverse plank engages all of the muscles in your core as well as the glutes and hamstrings for a challenging core workout. This exercise also stabilises your spine and opens up your shoulders.
- Squeeze your core and try to pull your navel back towards your spine. If your hips sag or drop then lower yourself back to the floor.
- The goal is to maintain a straight line and hold the reverse plank for 20-30 seconds.
- You may begin with holding this for a few seconds while you build your strength.
One part of the body you shouldn’t neglect is the neck. More often than not when driving, watching TV or working in front of a computer, your head is forward which tightens the front and side neck muscles, weakening the deep and rear muscles of the neck. Many people think of back and shoulders for good posture but the position of your head and neck is just as important. When viewed from the side your ears should be above your shoulders. By fixing the tight and weak areas of your neck your head will centre itself just above the shoulders. This is a position of proper posture. Try these two neck exercises:
Neck Retraction Exercise
Elongate the back of your neck by gently pulling your chin straight in as if you are hiding behind a tree. The highest point of your body should be the top back of your head.
While driving practice pulling your chin in and pushing your head into the headrest behind you for a few seconds at a time then releasing. If you have a high-back chair at work then you can also do this during your workday.
For more information or to try a Pilates class, visit www.pepilates.co.uk
And if you can master these moves, why not try adding in a few more strengthening exercises like these plus more ways to help you tone up, FAST!