Pilates is such a fantastic method to help improve your posture, so much so that, there are hundreds of exercises that can be utilized to do things like stretch out your spine or increase core strength.
Whether you perform Pilates in the comfort of your own home or in the company of a Pilates trainer, the benefits of this system are almost unparalleled.
Performing Pilates exercises helps to increase core strength, a strong core is imperative to having correct posture, improve flexibility and builds on your mind body connection, this helps you be more aware of your bodily movements.
You may have read my list of exercises for better posture post that I wrote a few weeks prior to this one, the post that followed that was a suggestion that I couldn’t fit into the original post.
This is another such suggestion that was sent to me regarding exercises to help improve your posture that I couldn’t fit into that original post.
This exercise was suggested to me by Jessica Schultz, a fully certified Peak Pilates™ instructor.
If you perform this exercise it will help to improve issues like rounded or forward shoulders.
This is definitely an exercise I recommend you give a try, over to Jessica.
Pilates Posture Tip from Jessica Schultz
As a Pilates instructor, it’s difficult to pick just one exercise to help correct posture.
I think the beauty of Joseph Pilates’ system of exercises is that they all help to correct, align, and
strengthen our entire body.
However, I do feel that the Power Circle (Pilates Ring) exercises in particular help to correct rounded shoulders because it brings our awareness to how the arms are supported by the back and should be moving from the back.
The Power Circle is meant to be a three dimensional picture of our Powerhouse.
The Powerhouse is a Pilates term that describes the four-inch band that runs around the hips to the rib cage from back to front.
So, however hard you are pressing into the circle is how hard you are scooping your abdominals in and up to connect to your Powerhouse.
This connection is the important part of this exercise because to correct our posture we need to work from our core out.
Muscles that hold and support the shoulders originate from and connect to the center of our body, so connecting to the Powerhouse is just as important as connecting to the muscles of your shoulder girdle to correct shoulder positioning.
Just as a house on a shaky foundation cannot stand, shoulder corrections will not hold if the core is weak. If you don’t have a Power Circle, you can use a ball between your hands.
You can even just pretend you are holding a Power Circle and contract the muscles to press into it as if you were holding a circle and still benefit from this exercise.
Power Circle Standing Arms: Low to the Thighs
To Set up
- Stand with your heels together and toes slightly apart, wrapping your sitz bones (bottom pelvis) together and opening the front of your hips. Feel the weight in your feet slightly forward and draw your
inner thighs in toward each other.
- Scoop your abdominals in and up toward your spine, feeling your low back lengthen and the space increase between the top of your hips and the bottom of your rib cage. This posture should feel active, like your spine is lengthening and long.
- Place the Power Circle (or ball) between your palms and lengthen your fingers.
- Face your elbows outward with a slight bend and roll your shoulders down and back, feeling the bottom
inside corners of your scapula turn in toward your spine and the outside upper corners of your
scapula turn out.
- Imagine you are trying to rotate your shoulder blades like you are trying to open jar lids (your right blade turns out to the right and your left turns out to the left).
- Press the circle inward and hold for three counts. Move the humerus or upper arm
bone with freedom in the joint to press into the circle, keeping the connections you found in the
set up of the body consistent.
- You should feel that the set up is an active position, and the press of the circle deepens the connections of the set up position while adding movement in your arm. Anatomically, serrates anterior and the trapezius depress and stabilize the scapula for correct arm movement.
- Try to avoid using the chest and neck muscles. You’ll know you’re doing the exercise correctly when you feel your collar bones widen and your waist get smaller every time you press into the circle.
- Imagine you are lengthening your spine each time you press into the circle. Emphasize the press in and reluctantly release the circle, but always keep your connections to your back, core, and seat.
For me, this is the challenge of Pilates.
It’s easy to connect while we press into the circle, but as soon as we release the tension of the circle, we
want to release the connections in our body.
But if we can keep the connections without the tension of the circle, we can start to re-train our neuromuscular system to reset our movement patterns.
Then you will start to correct your shoulder position all the time without having to think about it so consciously.
Repeat this exercise 4-8 times. For a challenge, add 10-20 little tiny dynamic pulses without moving the torso.
About the Author
Jessica, a Master Pilates Instructor, has been teaching private and semi private classes at her Pilates studio since 2008 but was also an independent instructor for the 8 years prior to that, you can learn more from Jessica at her website www.jessicaschultzpilates.com.
You can find Jessica via her social channels here:
Have you had good experiences using a Power Circle (Pilates Ring)? If you have (or haven’t!) let me know in the comments below.