When you think of your head you probably think about your face or hair and what they look like, but do you ever think about the weight of your head? It’s there perched on our necks – the cervical part of our spine – and when in a neutral position, the average head weighs 5kg. However our lifestyle has changed and we’re spending more time than ever in forward flexion over our phones, surfing the web, playing games online and at the moment doing Zoom meetings. Sound familiar?
When texting we bend the head down to a 45-60 degree angle which increases the force on the cervical spine. The muscles, tendons and ligaments at the back become lengthened whilst those at the front become shortened. As we do it gradually, over days and years, we don’t notice how our posture comes out of its neutral alignment and poor alignment becomes the norm. Some muscles, tendons and ligaments are working more than they are designed to do and others are working less resulting in stiffness and even pain. As the area becomes tighter it also becomes less mobile forcing other parts of the body to overplay their role and this imbalance increases our risk of injury
Pilates helps because it works on spinal alignment – not just the thoracic and lumbar parts of our spine, but also the cervical - the neck. As soon as your spine comes out of neutral alignment it starts compensating elsewhere within the body which can cause discomfort or injury. Pilates puts back that alignment by working the whole body. It:
Strengths core muscles which help support the torso. When the body is better supported it will help ease muscular tension
Promotes good breathing to open the space in the body
Works your deep postural muscles so good alignment becomes natural
The body needs to move across all planes – rotation, flexion, extension etc. – but it needs to move correctly. Whilst working on alignment, Pilates works on joint movement and strengthening the muscles that surround the joints. The body then starts to move correctly across all planes with improved mobility and strength – not only in the studio but also everyday life. So next time you’re looking down to text it’ll feel wrong and you’ll lift the phone to you rather than taking your head down to the phone.