By Patricia A. Staszak, PT
Over the last six months, we have reviewed the STOTT Pilates Five Basic Principles of posture. And it was quite a bit of information! Good posture definitely requires your awareness and precise attention to movement, but it does not have to be complicated. Today we will recap some important ideas so you can begin to understand how to find your best body alignment.
You can’t discuss body alignment without talking about neutral joint position. This is the position of the joint in which the deep, stabilizing muscles work best to support the joint, resulting in decreased strain and less wear and tear through the joint. When we find our best body alignment, what we are essentially doing is trying to figure out how to get all of our joints lined up in a neutral position against the force of gravity.
Let’s describe the neutral position of your body from the ground up. In the following picture you will notice the vertical line along side the body. This is called a plumb line and in a body that is centered perfectly against gravity this line should pass through your body as shown and described below.
Feet should be slightly less than hip distance apart, and our weight should be balanced just in front of our ankles.
Knees should be unlocked, and the plumb line should pass slightly in front of the knee joint. Knees and feet should face forward.
The hips and pelvis should be balanced over our feet, and the plumb line should pass just behind the hips. Remember, the neutral position of the pelvis is when the hip bones and pelvic bone at the front of your pelvis are perpendicular to the ground and the low back has a slight anterior curve.
The rib cage should be stacked directly over the pelvis. This is very important—it determines the placement of the scapula, head, and neck. The abdominals should be gently working to keep the bottom of the ribs connected to the pelvis.
The scapula should be centered on the ribs and connected to the rib cage.
The head and neck should be centered between the shoulders, and the eyes should gaze forward. The plumb line should bisect the ear and pass through the shoulder joint.
When you are in your best body alignment, whether sitting or standing, each part of your body should be balanced and stable on top of the segment below it. Remember, finding your best body alignment is oftentimes a work in progress—as your joints become more mobile, muscles become stronger, and soft tissues become more flexible, you will gradually be able to restore your normal posture.
Crosby, Ranice W., Diane K. Abeloff, Marjorie B. Gregerman, and William E. Loechel. Ideal Segmental Alignment: Side View. Photograph. Muscles – Testing and Function. By Florence P. Kendall and Elizabeth K. McCreary. 3rd ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1983. 280. Print.
Sahrman, Shirley. Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes. Ed. Kellie White. St. Louis: Mosby, 2002. Print.
“STOTT Pilates RMR-1 Spinal, Pelvic & Scapular Stabilization: Matwork and Reformer.” STOTT Pilates Rehab Instructor Trainer Workshop. STOTT Pilates Corporate Headquarters, Toronto. April 2009. Workshop.