During your Pilates practice, and during your everyday life, good posture is a constant necessity…and challenge for most of us. Proper alignment keeps us out of pain’s range, reduces stress, and helps us stay younger, longer.
Joseph Pilates emphasized our need for neck strength, flexibility, and mobility through many of his exercises. While executing each motion, it's extremely important to maintain a neutral and stable neck. We need our muscles surrounding our neck strong enough to support the weight of our head, especially when moving through space in different positions. We benefit from neck flexibility to keep the head and shoulders moving to their full capacity. Being able to mobilize the joints of the neck enables us to function with no pain, makes us less prone to injury, ensures good posture, and allows us to carry less stress.
There are many common errors in neck placement during exercises.
When in positions like a plank, the head tends to sink towards the ground and tuck. Try keeping the muscles on the back of the neck activated to level the head and neck. Another common situation when alignment is lost is when lifting the spine into extension. This causes excessive stress on the posterior side. People experiencing this tend to extend the head and neck too far when lengthening. Another error can be found when coming into a chest lift or an ab crunch; The chin tends to tightly tuck or stay too lifted. One fun way to correct this issue is to visualize holding an orange between the chin and chest throughout the entirety of an exercise. Overall, the neck and head need to stay in alignment with the upper back.
Keeping stable neck alignment decreases the risk of pain and imbalance throughout the body.
Losing the neutral position can cause unnecessary stress. On the flip side, keeping an elongated neck can help destress the spine even through daily motions or stressful situations. Preventing these common errors in our everyday lives and throughout our Pilates practice, allows us to reap the benefits of a healthy and happy neck, shoulders, and spine.
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