Fix Your Posture With Pilates
The bridge exercise
Lie supine with legs bent, feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart. Draw your feet reasonably close so you can push through them as you curl up. Your arms are flat next to the hips, with your palms facing down.
Put a little plastic ball or cushion between the knees to stop them from falling apart. Keep looking downwards, chin tucked in and stop your chest from protruding.
Start by breathing in through your nose, and feel your ribcage expand laterally. On breathing out, focus on the area between the two hip bones and the pubic bone. Curl your pubic bone up towards your chin, flattening your lower back into the mat. Curl your hips off the floor until you are parallel to the floor.
This movement is started by drawing deep into that lower abdominal area and pushing through your feet until you reach the end position. The arms also play a supporting role by engaging your fingers, and by subtly recruiting your latissimus dorsi. Once you are parallel to the floor, relax but keep your form.
Don’t contract your gluteus maximus. Breathe in and on breathing out, stabilise your body with your arms and feet. Slowly articulate down (keeping the pubic bone slightly curled towards your chin). Make contact with your upper back, then articulate through the vertebrae one at a time until you feel your lower back flattening out on the floor (this mobilises your lumbar spine).
Relax and return to your neutral position where there is a slight space in the small of the back – the body will find this position naturally if you keep your chin slightly tucked in and your abdominals relaxed.
Prone back extension
Lie face down on your mat, head turned to one side and arms lying at your side next to your hips with your palms facing down. Legs are straight out with your feet drawn together and heels touching.
Stabilise your centre then, keeping your hands on the ground, lift your body with your upper back. Your head follows your spine with the eyes in front of you. Your feet are pointed (don’t contract the gluteus maximus), while keeping your upper body lifted. Your upper back extensors should be activated, and are crucial in supporting natural movement.
If needed, use your abdominal muscles to support your lower back. With this exercise you don’t need to do repetitions. Stay in that position as long as it is comfortable, making sure you use the right technique.