Hands up, who uses a smart phone daily? Or sits at a laptop/computer? I know I do and although it isn’t great for my posture it is something that I need to do in order to work. Modern life is not good for our bodies, so the best thing we can do is to be aware and to combat our bodies compensations. Or all give up technology…. not going to happen!
One of the main issues is the position of your neck. Leaning to look down at a screen is causing the vertebrae in the neck to jam up and get stuck for space. It increases the wear and tear in the neck. It is the same when you wear a heavy rucksack, to compensate you jut your neck forward. (Note to parents, keep your children’s rucksacks light!).
Do you get headaches, have a pain at the base of your skull or tight neck/shoulders? All this can be linked.
Our head weighs 10-12lbs but when you change the angle if increases this effective weight, so a 15 degree angle changes this to 27lbs and a 60 degree angle makes it 60lbs!!!
Try placing your fingers on the very base of you neck, just above the big boney first part of your spine. How do your vertebrae in your neck feel? Jammed up or with space between them? Trying drawing your chin back so you have a double chin and then lengthening up through the crown on the head, how different is it?
When your neck is forward jutting you should feel that pressure on the back of the neck and the vertebrae are very close together. As you lengthen back to neutral spine the load and pressure is released and there is space for those vertebrae once more.
Our heads set the tone for the rest of the body (as do the feet) so if you head and neck posture are not in good alignment then it can affect the rest of the kinetic chain. The body is like one of these baby toys…. when you push one part it affects another area too. It’s all connected!
The solution? Start eavesdropping! Well at least pretend to. Assume the posture of standing tall and thinking about eavesdropping on someone behind you and it should help you draw your head and neck back into alignment.
Also try out this exercise:
Tight shoulders, neck pain, one shoulder higher than the other, restricted movement in a shoulder or shoulder pain are all issues that we see in the studio daily. There can be many causes, but many arise from our day to day lifestyle. Computers, laptops, smart phones, we all use them but they can affect our posture. Whether you have a desk job or not, you likely suffer from tightness in your shoulders and probably have a forward jut in your neck from leaning to look at a screen. So here are some tips to help and some exercises too:
Correcting your posture is a huge part of dealing with this issue.
- Bring your screen to eye level so you do not have to bend you neck to look at it. This may be you need a laptop raiser.
- Have your arms in line with keyboard so your wrists are not bent as you type.
- If working with your laptop, try not to use it on your lap! Instead place it ontop of a higher surface or place a laptop on your lap first.
- Stay away from the slouch. Sitting in good posture is an absolute must, as is taking posture breaks. Your eyes and shoulders will thankyou for a little move around.
To help deal with those aches and pains from working, lifting, leaning towards a screen or carrying children, here are some simple but effective shoulder mobilisers and release moves.
If you need more support with your neck of shoulders then why not book an assessment and sports massage with James.
There is a well known and loved quote from Joseph Pilates himself that in 30 sessions you will have a new body. I sometimes think that this quote gets taken out of context and leads to people expecting a beach bikini ready body from 30 pilates sessions. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but doing Pilates once a week for 7 months is not going to do that.
So was Mr Pilates wrong? No, I don’t think so, but I think he had a different emphasis on this. I think he was meaning 1-2-1 sessions rather than group classes, he used a lot of equipment including the reformer and cadillac. I think he would have been expecting homework to be done between sessions and I think his style of teaching would have demanded you continually work on your posture and core daily. Let’s face it, 7 months working in this way and you should be seeing great results.
This is not to say doing a weekly Pilates class isn’t beneficial. More of the point to highlight is that a weekly class is only 1% of your week and what you do the remaining 99% is key. So making Pilates a regular part of your day is the key. This doesn’t have to be a full hours workout, but more taking 10 minutes to focus on a few target exercises and keeping your posture high up the list of priorities in your day.
If you can manage a regular 1-2-1 session then this will also step things up a gear for you. I always notice that I work harder and see greater benefits for my own Pilates practise and body when I have regular 1-2-1’s. These don’t have to be weekly, I have clients who book in monthly for a reformer session to get that extra input and encouragement. Taking your Pilates from the mat to the equipment can show you where you need to focus your efforts. I’ve recently found that although I can do a roll up on the mat with ease, when I do it on the box on top of the reformer I struggle to get segmental work through one part of my spine. Cue a lightbulb moment and lots of focused stretching, segmental moves and practise.
So this post is all about encouraging you to take your Pilates out of the studio. Find some moves that you know you need to work on. The moves that you struggle with or the ones that you know help your body. Get your focus onto your posture and your everyday movements. Then you will really start to see the changes.
OH MY DAYS. We are SO SO lucky. We now have a reformer and a half Cadillac in our 1-2-1 studio. A friend reminded me yesterday how I have been talking about having one of these for around 4 years, finally the day has come.
The reformer is pretty much like a bed with pulleys and springs, which means you work against resistance. This makes you focus on your technique a lot more, makes you work harder and gives a greater depth to a lot of the exercises and amazing stretches.
The cadillac is a frame that goes over the bed, with bars and springs you can pull on that give beautiful length and enable you to go further in movements.
Both of these pieces of equipment were designed and used by Joseph Pilates himself and are just awesome for focusing on your body, working your weak areas, stretching the tight areas and getting stronger session by session. You really will see and feel a difference with it.
I’d highly recommend you give it a go hence we are offering it at a special rate in March. Personally I find doing some sessions now and again on the reformer makes a huge difference to how I then do Pilates on the mat. It also help me work on the imbalances in my body – shoulder tighness, leg length, tight hip flexors, tight back etc…
If you even just want to have a peek and a 5 min lie down on it after class let us know.
You can guess where I am spending all my spare time at the moment!