Active Pilates’ Tip 5 – alignment and weight- bearing of the extremities

“Ideal alignment involves all body parts approximating toward the central axis, as much as structure permits.” – Eric Franklin

What is weight bearing?

It’s a body position that involves a certain percentage of your body weight supported by your legs and arms. It’s quite important to distribute the weight evenly as you could easily overload one side of your body and end up with strains and injuries.

When you sleep your muscle tone is lower then when you are active. In order to support your body adequately, it’s crucial to engage your muscles actively when you’re doing any weight-bearing exercise. To give you an example – think of the implications of a running style that places more body weight on one limb and so, it requires much more muscular support around the knee. The result is likely to be tight muscles which can lead to poor joint alignment, resulting in inefficient movement. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand how to align your body and so minimise any potential injuries.

Your ultimate goal should be to have balanced muscle tone as it’ll lead to dynamic body alignment.

How do you do this?

Start with a focus on your centre of gravity (the abdominal and deep pelvic muscles). If you learn to do this effectively, you’ll have a good foundation for reducing tension in your upper body and allow your deep and superficial muscles to work more effectively.

As a result, you’ll be able to achieve better balance while you’re lifting a leg or arm during movement. Imagine, you’re doing Plank/Leg Pull Front (a weight-bearing exercise) - your body weight needs to be distributed evenly between your feet and your hands. Your spine has to be in alignment, as this will enable you to engage your abdominals. You’ll also notice that you have much more chance of lifting your leg and arm with better coordination. Take note - it’s not necessary to lift your arms or legs high and it’s important to achieve maximum length and maintain your shoulders, hips and heels in a straight line while you’re performing this exercise.  

REMEMBER: pain isn’t the enemy - pain is just trying to tell you something:

  1. You have poor form or technique
  2. You didn’t warm up
  3. You have a small muscle imbalance
  4. The right and left sides of your body aren’t working together
  5. You are focusing on “I can’t do this” rather than “I can do this”.

Use pain to your advantage – change your technique, slow down and pay attention to your movement. Where does your movement start? Which muscles are switching on first? Think of your posture – are you applying the fundamental principles of movement? Learn to listen to your body, and make the required changes.

Next week, we’ll introduce the last Polestar Pilates principle of movement – movement integration.  

Awareness is everything and we’re here to help you to develop resistance to injury. Contact us today, and we’ll provide you with our best recommendations for your situation.