Just move: Is it time to stop fretting about neutral spine and posture?

NOW this title might sound very strange coming from someone who runs a Pilates business. However, you know me, I like to be a little different and I love a challenge. So when, at a recent Pilates convention (yes – they exist and they’re fun thank you JPilates) I sat in on a lecture by physiotherapist Mark Leyland (a physio who refreshingly was more interested in sharing knowledge and debate than asserting his superior knowledge of anatomical language) who share information such as:

  • There is no such thing as neutral spine;
  • There is no evidence to suggest good posture is good for you;
  • Postural alignment alone does little to heal the body; and
  • Having a bad back does not automatically mean you have a weak core

In the midst of a group of experienced and fairly outspoken Pilates instructors (few of us are meek and shy) my ears pricked up! What does this mean?

It challenged me as an instructor. I love to practise with great technique. I love to correct technique to make sure my participants are getting the most out of Pilates. I can spot a lordotic curve at 20 paces. I know which exercises will be challenging for which groups of participants. I can spot a Body Pump addict in the warm up! As an instructor you can get smug and complacent. So it got the old grey matter chugging.

There is no doubt that Pilates is beneficial. That said (and is is where I veer from many Pilates purists) it’s important to keep the body moving and do Pilates as part of a bigger package of movement. Within my classes we move through all planes of movement. We stand up. We free joints  and spines. But how could this information help me to give my participants more?

So here is what I’ve processed so far:

The most important thing for a pain free life is movement. Free, un-impinged movement across all joints. This, for most people, means finding an equilibrium, a place where they can re-balance muscles and find some alignment before progressing onto free-er movement.

My ultimate Pilates method would be in a studio. We’d incorporate big, primal, movement patterns like deadlifts, squats and pull-ups with Pilates. We’d also get your heart rate up.

But before that happens and because it is my mantra: just move! If something has got stuck, you need to find ways to free it. Since, after all, life is not all about being able to do the perfect plank well into your 80’s, it’s about playing and moving , pain free with your family or grandchildren.

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