Pilates for Posture
What is Forward Head Posture?
Forward head posture is also known as upper crossed syndrome and is characterized by elevated and rounded shoulders, forward head and an increased curvature in the thoracic spine. Dowagers hump is also another definition of forward head which presents as hyperkyphosis of the thoracic spine or upper back. Untreated over a long period of time, forward head posture can lead to compression of several nerves and arteries which innervate the arm, hand and shoulder girdle. This is known as TOS or thoracic outlet syndrome where the bony, ligamentous, or muscular components of the shoulder and neck region compress the neurovascular bundle of the brachial plexus, C8 and T1 nerve roots and the subclavian artery and vein.
What are some common symptoms of forward head/upper crossed syndrome and TOS?
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Shoulder impingement
- Muscle weakness of the hand and arm
- Parashtesia along the inside of the forearm and palm
- Pain and/or cramping of the muscles of the inner forearm
- Tingling and numbness in neck, shoulder region, arm, and hand
Prominent Postural Symptoms:
- Head is forward of pelvis
- Neck is stuck forward resulting in neck dysfunction
- Increased curvature of thoracic spine
- Elevated shoulders
- Shoulders are rotated forward
- Increased lordosis in lumbar spine
Why is functional forward head/upper crossed syndrome important to manage and correct ?
Correcting improper posture such as forward head/upper crossed syndrome can prevent compression of the nerves and arteries of the neck, hand and arm. It can also prevent hyperkyphosis in the thoracic spine and lower back pain.
Getting the spine back into alignment and lengthening and strengthening the muscles that are out of balance with the spine, will encourage better posture,and decrease pain and dysfunction in the neck, shoulder joint, arm, hand and lower back.
What can The Body Gallery do to help?
The trainers will visually assess the body and its landmarks to develop a plan in using the Pilates method to lengthen and strengthen the muscles involved in improper postural alignment. First the body must be able to reach an ideal postural alignment and the tight and overworked muscles need to be lengthened to allow the spine and limbs to move back into proper alignment. Then the muscles that are weak and lengthened must be strengthened to teach new patterns to encourge and keep proper body alignment. Pilates incorporates whole body movement and originates from the core, or solar plexus of the body. The philosophy behind Pilates is, not one movement or muscle group acts in isolation, the body moves as a whole to create uniform development concentrating on postural muscles that support the spine and joints of the body. The affected muscles in forward head/upper crossed syndrome are tight and overworked pectoralis major and minor, anterior deltoid, subscapularis, latismuss dorsi, levator scapulae, upper trapezius, sternocliedomastoid, teres major, and scalenes. The often weak and lengthened affected muscles include the rhomboids, lower trapezius, posterior deltoid, teres minor, infraspinatus, serratus anterior, and longus coli and capitus.