Posture 101

Stand straighter, feel better, live longer!

The Pilates fundamental principle of alignment begins with the Pelvis. We can consider the pelvis as the foundation with the centre of body mass located within the Pelvis. When the pelvis is Neutral it brings the lumbar spine into neutral, this allows the spine to stack up above it in the most ideal ‘S’ shape; also referred to as the Natural Curves of the spine. This ‘S’ shape arrangement of the bones allows the spine to distribute the load most effectively between all the appropriate load bearing structures; bones, discs, ligaments, muscles etc

We must remember that our movement habits emanate from our primitive programming which seeks the most energy-efficient way in which to go about our day; just in case we need to run from a tiger at any point. Unfortunately this propensity for energy efficient movement means muscles are doing the least they possibly can unless we consciously intervene.

Does it really matter?

If, like me, you are a woman of a certain age (read post menopauisal) it is worth noting that a fairly reliable predictor for the likelihood of osteoporotic spinal compression fracture is the occiput /wall test. The occiput to wall distance (OWD), a measure of kyphosis, has been associated with postural instability, osteoporosis, disability and depression. Reference

To take the test we stand against a wall and measure the distance of the occiput (a bony protuberance at the base of the skull) from the wall. A distance of greater than 7cm can predict the likelihood of a thoracic vertebral fracture with HIGH accuracy.

You can’t choose your family!

There are inherited factors that affect bone development, so. If a close relative has suffered a fracture linked to osteoporosis then your risk of a fracture is likely to be greater than normal. This is not to be taken lightly, as spinal compression fractures impact significantly on the quality of life and occur in nearly 700,000 patients each year.

Improve your profile with postural awareness

And I don’t mean your online visibility. I am referring to your outline, I will never forget those TV ads for the Playtex 18 hour girdle and the before and after pictures from the side, It was like magic, if a little confusing when you are only 10. I do however recall hearing a friend mention the phenomenon of the ‘menopause pot’ and I’m talking about a ‘pot belly’ not a piece of crockery! There is no doubt that the menopause has a raft of undesirable consequences and for many women weight gain is one. But it is absolutely the case that a forward tilted pelvis is more likely to give the appearance of a pot belly. So by learning how to position the pelvis in neutral we can optimise posture and improve your profile. Practice Pilates regularly and the ‘menopause pot’ may just be a thing of the past!

Does poor posture cause injuries?

This is a much debated viewpoint, however in my vast experience although poor postural habits may not be the cause of a muscle or joint problem. It can definitely be the case that postural habits play a significant part in slowing or preventing spontaneous recovery following injury. A simple tip is to ask a friend or family member to video you as you are sitting, standing and walking, ideally when you are unaware. This will draw your attention to any areas requiring attention. It is the unconscious nature of these movement habits that allows perpetuation and guidance and support is often called for to correct and improve posture.

Stand up straight and feel happier!

The connection between posture and mood is a fascinating one for me and a study by Veenstra et al found that a “stooped posture led to more negative thoughts overall compared to straight (or control) postures” If you feel like you could do with a ‘lift’ try standing up tall. Connect your mind to your body and stand with your feet under your hips, knees unlocked, tailbone towards the ground, breastbone lifted, collarbones open, lengthen the back of your neck and grow your head towards the ceiling!


Posture, Making a change

I recommend you take action sooner rather than later. The good news is Pilates is the perfect antidote to poor posture and it is in my opinion one of the most important things we can do for our bodies (I may be biased). Pilates will help us to develop our awareness of ideal posture and develop our ability to tune into how we hold our bodies as we go about our day. Eventually with practice we will be able to do this regardless of whether we are in class, sitting at a desk, hanging washing, running around with the vacuum, driving to work, feeding a baby, relaxing on the sofa or hitting a golf ball!

Small changes can make a big difference

The general principles when making adjustments to posture are to stretch and release tight/overactive muscles and reeducate and strengthen weakened/inhibited muscles. Making any changes takes regular practice and there is always a possibility that the body may experience an adjustment reaction so guidance and support may be indicated. However if you persevere it will pay off!

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Improve your Posture with my Pilates Online

Boost your mood, build muscle and bone with my Bone Healthy Pilates Online. We will target the major antigravity muscle groups, incorporate the principles of ideal posture and alignment into every movement we make!

Yoga for Improved Posture

Hatha yoga with ‘Precizion’ will challenge your balance, strengthen the muscles which hold you ‘up’ against gravity, load bones and improve your flexibility.

Join me online now for a free taster with the coupon code FIRSTFREE

Prefer Something Gentle to begin with?

My Mindful Movement Online sessions will stretch muscles and offers an opportunity to put your joints through their full range of movement. Moreover the combination of breath-work and guided meditation will moderate brain activity which in turn positively impact the autonomic nervous system reducing overall levels of stress and anxiety.


I look forward to seeing you again soon on Zoom.

With all my best wishes.

Phillipa x



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Phillipa Butler

Phillipa Butler

Chartered Physiotherapist. Passionate about movement as medicine. Using pilates and yoga to mitigate the symptoms of the menopause. Contact