Modern life is not our posture's friend. Our spines are suffering due to our obsession with technology, be it tech neck from hunching over our smartphones or just the general slouching we do in front of a desktop all day. Unless we all want to resemble the hunchback of Notre Dame in later life, we need to do something—pronto!
We called on Dawne Likhodedova, founder of London's Be Pilates studio, to share with us three quick and easy Pilates moves that will help improve your posture and in turn make you look longer and leaner in no time. Bookend your day by doing these moves before you go to bed and when you get out of bed. If you can do them by your desk without your colleagues ripping it out of you, then do them mid-afternoon too. Your back will thank you for it. Keep scrolling for the three posture-saving moves to do on the daily.
Strengthens: legs, glutes and abs while lengthening and mobilising the spine.
Starting Position: Lie down on your back on the floor with your knees bent at a right angle and your feet on the floor in line with your hips.
Movement Sequence: Inhale to prepare. As you exhale, gently roll the spine up starting with the pelvis moving into a bridge. Inhale at the top and as you exhale, slowly bring your spine back down to your starting position. Perform 8–10 reps.
Top Tips: Initiate the movement by drawing your tailbone towards your pubic bone and your pubic bone to your chest as you press down equally through your feet, hands and shoulders to articulate the spine as you bridge.
Try to roll up only as far as the bottom tips of your shoulder blades to maintain a gentle curve to the spine at the top of your bridge.
Strengthens: the entire back of the body for improved posture and to help you stand taller.
Starting Position: Lie on your stomach with arms extended overhead in line with your shoulders and legs reaching to the opposite wall.
Support your low back by pulling your belly button away from the floor and reach your arms to opposite ends of the room to gently lift them from the floor.
Keep you head in line with your upper arms as they lift off the mat and keep your gaze down toward the mat to help keep your neck long and supported.
Movement Sequence: Alternate pumping your left arm/right leg and right arm/left leg in small movements as you maintain a long spine.
Breathe in for five pumps and out for five pumps to create a nice flow of movement.
Continue for a total of five reps (50 pumps) building up to 10 (100 pumps).
Top Form: Create strong, precise movements of the arms and legs while your torso stays stable on the mat.
The motivation for the movement is to lengthen the limbs and the spine, not necessarily lifting too high from the mat.
If your head, neck or shoulders are uncomfortable, you can start with your head down, resting on the backs of your hands.
If your low back is uncomfortable, a small towel can be helpful if placed under the abdomen to lengthen and decompress tight lower backs.
It is better to start off slow and build up speed as your strength and endurance improves.
Strengthens: This move tones arms and strengthens your core muscles for a longer, leaner look.
Starting Position: Stand at the back of your mat with feet in line with sitz bones, arms relaxed by your sides with a feeling of length from the top of your head down to your feet.
Movement Sequence: Lift your arms overhead, maintaining the length of the legs down toward the floor. Keeping your ears in line with your upper arms, roll down towards the floor (soften your knees if you feel strain in the lower back).
Inhale as you walk your hands out to a plank position so that your hands are under your shoulders and you're in one straight line from head to heel.
Bend your elbows towards your waist as you lower down to the floor in one straight line. (Place your knees down on your mat if you find that you are losing your form).
Press back up to your plank position. Repeat for three reps.
Pike your hips up towards the ceiling and walk your hands back towards your feet before rolling back up to your starting position.
Repeat entire sequence for five reps.
Top Tips: Push-ups can be challenging for the stability of your shoulders. Start with knees down and limited range of motion before increasing the challenge.
Low back pain is a signal that should not be ignored. Modify by placing your knees down, and if pain persists, avoid.
Focus on feeling equal weight through your hands and your feet so that your body weight is distributed efficiently.
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Have you tried Pilates before? Let us know whether it helped your posture in the comment box below.