Just Flat Out Get Mobile! Part Six

OK, are you about done with the posture graphic? You should have it memorized by now.

Let's move on to:

Flat-Back Posture (3rd from the left)

When I think of the Flat-Back, I think of the need for flexibility. Remember the Sway-Back person? They typically have a high dose of flexibility. Opposites! Wonder if they attract? Just kidding.

The Flat-Back type needs to take note of the oak tree! You know, it bends in the wind so it won't blow over. Whereas we can't always keep the Sway-Back person from blowing in the wind, (hey sounds like a good title for a song).

I've had the privilege of teaching a duo with both of these types. Now that can be challenging because of the vast differences. Which means different modifications for the same exercise. Ex. A sway back person may have a hard time balancing themselves on their sides while performing the side leg series while the FB will not. The flat back may have a harder time performing a roll up while the SB glides right up. I think this duo worked out well together, for many reasons. For one thing, they saw up close and personal that none of us are exempt from personal challenges.

It's amazing how well our bodies will and can respond to change. We sometimes feel overwhelmed with the battle before us. Yet, there's always the hope that we will overcome. While we can tap into a variety of cosmetic surgeries, I think the only real answer for our body issues is to roll up our sleeves and get busy. And as Joe Pilates said, even 10 minutes of Pilates a day would make a difference in our health in 30 days. How can we pass that up? And it's all free. No calories, except those we burn. Sounds like a deal.

Flat Back Posture Characteristics:

  • Flat Back Head is forward, Cervical spine slightly extended

  • Thoracic spine- upper thoracic is flexed and lower part is straight

  • Lumbar spine-flexed straight

  • Posteriorly tilted
  • Knee Joints-not hyper-extended but extended knee joints

  • Slightly plantar ankle joints
In Pilates one goal is to help them become more flexible as they typically do not have a lot of mobility. We use a series of exercises with flexion to help them with the flatness in their mid-thoracic and extension to help them with the lack thereof in their lumbar.

One example on the mat is Rolling Like A Ball. And Cat is great. In the case of Cat, they are getting both flexion and extension. Flexion as they bring their tailbone and head down/toward the body, arching the back. And extension when they bring their head and tailbone back up/away from the body. Click http://www.pilatesworx4life.com/, then click on the Packages Page to see an example on my website of a man in flexion while performing Cat. Notice how his head and tailbone are heading toward each other.

In case you are wondering, I think of flexion as the act of moving toward the body. Extension, moving away from the body.

Homework: Again, I would say have someone take a snapshot of you from the side with your phone or camera. Take a look and see where you are in space. Is your head forward, your upper and lower back flattened, which way is your pelvis tilting, are your knees extended? Now making note of these try self-correcting your posture. Simple awareness makes a huge difference. Though simple, it may not be easy. Retraining your muscles takes time and energy.

Along with awareness, I would recommend you work on becoming more mobile. No, I don't mean using your phone more often! Really! It's called flexing your spine. Stretching would be helpful as well, and on a daily basis.

Try flexing forward off the wall. Step a foot or so away from a wall. With your arms about shoulder distance apart and extended in front of you, begin to round over SLOWLY, allowing your arms and head to follow. Control, control, control. Only go as far as you can maintain balance and control. Then being to unfold slowly, returning to your starting position. Vertebra by vertebra as best as you can so as to bring mobility to your spine. And remember to breathe, Pilates style. Go back and read my post on Feb. 21 on the 5 Principles of Alignment. Check out #1 Breathing. Go easy at first, then repeat about 5-10 times every day. Practiced every day over a period of time, and you should begin to experience more flexibility in your spine.

Caution: If you have vertigo issues, you might try to flex forward while sitting in a chair.

****Again, I highly recommend you find someone who is qualified to do a body assessment.

NEXT: Where Did My Body Come From? Body Awareness/Adjustment series, Part 7