Gotta' Hunch? Part Four

From left to right the above photo shows:

A. Ideal Alignment, B. Kyphosis-Lordosis, C. Flat-Back, D. Sway-Back

Kyphotic-Lordodic Body Type.

  • Kyphosis is when your thoracic spine has increased flexion. Think of this as being rounded in your upper back (thoracic spine). In an accelerated version, you will see people like my little mama who have the little hunched over back.
  • Lordosis basically means you have too much extension or hyperextension in your lumbar region/lower back.
  • Forward Head (cervical spine/neck region extended).
  • Abducted Scapulae (which helps to create that rounded look).
  • Anterior Pelvis Tilt which can cause the belly to pooch .
  • Hyperextension in the knee joints.
  • Slight Plantar Ankle Joints.
    Is that a mouth full, or what?
What do we do for this body type in Pilates?

As in all body types, we work to bring the body into neutral by applying exercises designed just for that particular body type. I'm going to detail this type as it does seem to bear many challenges. Some of the other posture types will have similar challenges.

Forward Head: Most all types have a forward head which causes misalignment of the cervical spine, extending beyond its neutral position. Is it any wonder why some of us have neck and head aches? We are a progressive people always in the mode of going what direction? Forward. We have the tendency to lean forward. We are like a dart heading to its target. The challenge is to bring the head back on top of the body.

Homework: Have someone take a picture of you from the side (and do not correct your posture or you will defeat the purpose). Remember most people have forward heads. Look at yourself in that photo. Now think about correcting your cervical spine (neck area) out of extension or flexion. Put your head on top of your body. Quit wearing it like it’s disconnected from your body! And while bringing it back to the top, think of someone pulling (gently, of course) you up from the top of your head…lengthen, lengthen the neck. My trainer used to take my pony-tail on top of my head and give me a little pull; it helped me “feel” what I needed to work toward. Chiropractic adjustments may help a forward head as well. However, I believe simple awareness makes all the difference in the world.

Kyphotic Back: A major emphasis for this type is opening up the chest and getting out of rounded shoulders. There are many exercises on and off of the equipment that are very helpful. Extension is a key to get out of an unhealthy amount of flexion in the upper thoracic. I love to work off the stability ball in a prone position while performing Breast Stroke Preps to open up the chest. It's critical to begin to correct the kyphosis immediately. The longer you wait, the more difficult your recovery is going to be.

Homework: From the side, take a look at your upper back without correcting your normal stance. If you are rounded over, think of standing up taller like someone is pulling you up from the top of your head. Don’t lean forward. Quit crunching your ribs together; they do NOT like it. They were not made to stay smashed together. Next, think of moving your shoulders not just back, but BACK and DOWN. Let them glide/slide back and down. Though this may be uncomfortable for you at first, it does get easier. You have to remember you have misinformed your muscles. Now that you are speaking a new language to them, they don’t want to be bothered. Ultimately they'll love it. The health benefits will begin, and as an added feature you will look xtra beautiful. Wow! And your body will thank you.

Anterior Pelvis: Posterior, Anterior? You may be asking what in the world does all that mean? Posterior means you are tilting from the back toward the front, while an anterior tilt is the opposite. From the front tilting to the back (note above graphic). When you do both? U R Elvis the Pelvis! Please, no! Your goal is to find neutral where your pelvis is level and square. Otherwise you will have issues that may travel up and down your body. ouch.

Homework: When you stand from the side without correcting, notice how your tush is positioned (the tilt of the pelvis will affect the look of your tush). Now if you have a more rounded booty, you will have to have someone help you look past your cute booty patooty. Why? Because we don't look for flesh/skin but bones and bony landmarks and a rounded tush may give the appearance of an anterior tilt. Anyway, does it look like your tush is pushing toward the back or the front? Finding neutral means not tilting anteriorly or posteriorly; it's finding an in between point. Why is it important? For one thing it keeps you out of your hip joints…keeping you from flexing or extending them too much. Also, it keeps your belly from going in directions it was not made to…like out (note above graphic).

Travel down to the knee joint. Hopefully, you will have a nice neutral knee. I don't. I hyperextend. When assessing someones knees we look at the position of the patella/knee cap from the side, front, and back. That's a simple explanation, but we'll let that suffice for now. Are the knees level, are they shifting laterally, medially, are they knock-kneed, or hyperextended, are the legs bowed, etc.. Again, anything outside of neutral will create issues in other parts of the body. Again, take a look at the above graphic. Notice the knee position in the Sway and Flat-Back Postures.

Homework: If when you stand in profile stance, you see your knees pressing into the back of your knee joint, you are hyperextending. The goal is to soften the knee ever so slightly. Don’t push back into the knee. We watch how the knee tracks when teaching Pilates whether on the mat or equipment. Again mental awareness is the key. I hyperextend my knee joints, so I have to make a mental note and adjust accordingly. Ex: when I am standing in the ck-out line at grocery store, I find myself pushing back into my knees because it feels comfy…but it’s horrible for my posture/body/health. As far as "shifting" knees, knock-knees, etc., we have to address those issues individually.

The feet. In the near future I will be posting a series on those slighted creatures. They bare a great burden every day of our lives, and we give them so little thought. OK, with this body type we often see a slight plantar extension in the ankle. The body shifts with every incorrect position we put our bodies in. Yes, even the feet. Footwork is at the front end of what we teach clients in Pilates. The Reformer is one of the best places to begin. I teach clients how to do footwork with props they have at home when they don't have access to equipment. We look at whether the feet are rolling out or inward. Where are they in space, besides the floor! Are the toes pointing toward or away from each other? Everted or inverted? Do they go different directions? Ex.: I have a client who has one foot that points almost sideways. Which has caused back and hip issues. Again, these are just some of the questions we use in analysis.

Homework: Take a gander at the sole of your shoes. Do you see wearing on certain sides of your shoes? Maybe on one shoe more than the other? Walk in place for a few seconds, then stop. Look down and take notice of where your feet are in space. Far apart? Close together? Is one foot angled differently from the other foot? Or are they both even? Are you sinking and or putting more weight on the outside of your feet or the inside? How about those little piggies? Are they together or far apart or jumping in all different directions? Are you pigeon toed...feet turning inward? Do they turn outward? What is your ankle up to? Is it moving forward toward the top of your foot or falling away from it? Again, you want to wear neutral.
The body is screaming for balance.
NEXT: Sway Back Posture, Part Five of Body Adjustment/Awareness Series


What's Your Posture? Part Three

Along with defining each body type over the next few posts, a homework section will be included. First, let's begin by giving a name to each type.

Body Types:
While there are different views and names for body types/postures, I like to use four basic types:

· Kyphosis-Lordosis Posture
· Sway Back Posture
· Flat Back Posture
· Military Posture

With that said, please know as with most anything in life a mixture of flavors are included. Some days I think I suddenly morphed into a totally different body type. But really, body types are not always static, and they are not boxed in to one type. While typically our body suit is likely to fit into one of these main categories, there will be shades of variance. I haven't met a perfect body type yet, and I might add nor have I met a perfect body.

First consider that the spine has natural curves. Usually we say it has curves like the letter S though obviously not as pronounced. But you get the concept. Those curves keep us balanced and healthy. It's when those parts of our spine flex or extend more than they should that we develop problems. Problems can be as simple as a minor ache somewhere in our body or as severe as immobilizing us or taking us on an unwanted hospital stay. The spine takes much abuse without seemingly making a sound. That very silence can become deafening.

All that to say, discovering your body type can be a beginning for your body to recover before it's all but too late. Awareness is the beginning of any recovery. With that in place, hopefully you will choose to take it the next level which means work. Work to correct bad habits and to form new healthy habits. OK, let’s begin.

NEXT: Part Four, Body Adjustment/Awareness Series


What's in a Body? Part Two

So just what is a body type? Human body types, that is. In one sense, body types are defined by the certain ways our muscles, joints, and bones take "shape". The way they do or do not balance. Posture is another word we could and do use. Static postural alignment is described by the positions of the various joints and body segments (Florence Peterson Kendall, P.T. F.A.P.T.A., Muscles, Testing, and Function).

Ms Peterson goes on to say, as in any test, there is a standard when evaluating alignment in the body. The ideal alignment we go by has sound scientific principles; it involves a minimal amount of stress and strain, and is conducive to maximal efficiency of the body. Alignment of the body affects how our body functions inside and out. Example: Have you ever considered how you stand or sit affects your body's organs? Think about it, if you are slumping over, you are crunching into your organs. So, no slumping today. Your organs are screaming to function properly.

We will be looking at the specific details of the different body types. Too, we will be discussing what to look for when finding a qualified person to give you a body assessment. But first, I want us to take a gander at the inside before we look at the outside.

Bones. Muscles. Joints. Organs. What do they have to do with our posture? Without them, our posture would be on the floor. Imagine, a puddle of flesh. Ugh.

Think about it though, without our bones, joints, muscles we would not even be able to stand, sit or run. One without the other would be a very untidy mess, don't you think?

Without the bones, we would have no structure to the body. Bones provide support. Have you ever considered that your ribs have purpose? They are a cage of protection: the heart, lungs, liver, and spleen. Think of the pelvis: it protects the bladder, intestines, and female organs. Are you out of your slump yet?

Without the joints, we would not have the freedom of functional movement. Notice I said functional. Then some of you might find it entertaining to be able to move in all range of motions including spinning your heads around, etc. Personally, I am thankful we were not designed for such entertainment.

Without the muscles, we would certainly not have the flexibility we need to create everyday activities. There are three different types of muscles. Skeletal. Smooth/Involuntary. Cardiac. Have you ever thought about muscles being involuntary? When you sit perfectly still, muscles throughout your body are constantly moving. Hummmm. They help your heart to beat, they aid your blood vessels in regulating the pressure and flow of blood through your body. What an amazing body we have!

Too, without our brain and nervous system, our muscles would be at a total loss. Muscles are coordinated and controlled by them. Voluntary muscles are regulated by the cerebral motor cortex and the cerebellum, while the involuntary muscles are told what to do by the deeper parts of the brain and the brain stem.

And we do need the largest organ, the skin. Without it, well we would for sure be naked to the core and probably pretty darn ugly.

Our bones were developing before we ever graced this world. And while we were born with about 300 bones, adults evolve into about 206 bones, depending on how many we swallowed recently. But isn't that backwards? Actually, as we grow certain bones begin to fuse together, like the sacrum. And bones are not weighty. Yet, amazingly they are strong enough to carry the load we place on them. The largest bone is the femur, the smallest is in the ear.

I have more than 650 muscles, but then so do you. Wow, shouldn't I feel stronger then?
Oh, that is not the deal. Hummmm. Imagine trying to keep them all in shape. Now that, folks, is a work-out. Too, they weigh in at about half of our body weight. So that's why we weigh so much? Great excuse. NOT!

COMING UP NEXT: Part Three, The Specific Body Types


A Body Designed 4 U- Part One

What is Your Body Type?

The hot rod? The sporty type like the Corvette or Porsche or the sleek curvy type like my Solara Convertible. Or maybe you like the boxy type. Ooops, not the right kind of body.

Hummm, let's see. Tall, dark, and handsome? Short, stocky, and gorgeous? Lean? Muscular? Not. At least they are human body types! But NOT exactly what I'll be discussing in this mini series. Sorry. Maybe next time.

All joking aside, many of you have asked for more info on body types. Understandably so. Hopefully, as you saunter thru the next few posts, you'll:

  • Become better acquainted with your own body.

  • Be able to identify your personal body type challenges.

  • Discover methods to posture your way into a healthier life.

Questions I'll Explore:

· What does body type mean?
· How did we get the type we have?
· What are the different body types?

· Is one better to have than another?
· Does anyone have a perfect body type?
· Does it matter to your health?
· What do they have to do with Pilates?
· Do they change over time?
· Can you correct an imperfect body type?
· If so, how long does correction take?

Thanks for joining me as we take a look below the surface of the human body.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to email me or leave a comment.


Pilates In The Park

While we were recently on a photoshoot, my beautiful daughter, my little mama, and my sweet grand baby girl decided to play in the park. We took a few Pilates tools just for fun: the Magic Circle, the foam roller, the small ball, and the flex band. As you can tell, we were just chilling and having a good time in front of the camera, refusing to take any of it too seriously.

Hey, GG, that's MY Magic Circle!!!

Here you go, Miss Ella!!!

How about if we share, GG?

Everybody get ready to engage your core!!!

What kind of toy is that up there in the air?
I think I want it!!!


Dirk Wears Pilates

And, yes, my husband knows it!!!!!!!!

OK, OK, so what do the Dallas Mavericks have to do with a Pilates/Health blog??????????


Well, really almost everything.

First of all you have to admit those guys look pretty healthy. And what happens when they are not healthy...or at least not healthy enough to play???????

You guessed it (well, fake it like you did): PILATES!!!!!

If you are a fan, (and if you are not, don't tell me) you know that Dirk #41 was injured the other night. I cringe every time I see the play. Anyway, I was thinking he might be recovering with Pilates. Nice place to recover, I might add.

Then came Friday and back to my class for more Pilates equipment training. I arrived at the studio early to chill before brain surgery started. And I ran directly into Dirk. Cute guy, ladies! Well, he is. Dirk was there for his own surgery. NO knives though. Just equipment and one heck of a personal Pilates trainer. I have to admit we were all enjoying watching him without watching him. Know what I mean? Poor guy. No incognito for him. I mean think about it, how would he? You can cover up a lot of things but not if you are 7 ft tall.

Anyway, he was great fun to observe for a Pilates session. Hey, I should get credit hours for observation. HUMMMM. Honestly though, she worked his tush off within the range of his injury. I don't think he missed out on one piece of equipment.

I did wonder how he must have felt in the midst of all the estrogen floating in the room, knowing our eyes were somehow on him. And I am sure he was praying he was getting the movements right...and hoping he would not fly off the equipment. He did amaze me at how well he was able to control his core. Believe me, there are many successful professional athletes who do not have a strong core. And when you are 7', it's even more of a challenge.

He is a very gracious, humble guy. And that made it all the more enjoyable. He smiled a lot and just looked like a big-little boy!!!! Autographs and pictures I don't do in situations like that. It's his time, not ours to steal. He gave by just being willing to be there with all of us watching.

I did tell him that my 6'5 son thinks a lot of him. He gave me that beautiful smile. Then I added, "My son keeps telling me,'Mom, 6'5 is short!' " I think that made his day. I know he made mine!



Thank you for so many kind words about the launching of this blog. You are an inspiration. I only hope I can bring you a little more enjoyment mixed with a lot of healthy information.

I have had quite a few requests for details on "body types". So keep looking to see which body might fit you!!!!