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Posture you say? That’s not a sexy term. It doesn’t instill a sense of excitement. What if I were to tell you that a huge amount of back pain, neck pain, hip pain, ankle and foot issues are the result of poor posture. What if I told you that improving your posture could enable you to perform better, go faster and produce more power.

When the word posture is mentioned, the first thing that often comes to mind for a lot of people is to stand up straight. Indeed when I first meet people and they find out what I do, 9 times out of 10 they will sit up straight, smile and say…”Oh, my posture is so bad” But, if you unpack it a bit more, most people don’t realize the impacts poor posture actually has on your body.


So, what do we mean by posture

Let’s take the skeleton as the key building block:

The bones all have an ideal position – a place where there is ample space between each one. Where they sit correctly in a joint so that there is easy movement. The muscles attach from one bone to another bone and it is their job to maintain the correct position of the bones in the skeleton. When this occurs there are no aches and pains and the body moves freely and optimally – it’s just common sense really.

As a reference for good posture we are trying to line up the middle of the ear with the middle of the shoulder, through the middle of the hip through the middle of your ankle.


But what happens when the muscles around the joint become imbalanced. Think of someone sitting at a desk for long periods of time with their shoulders hunched forward. In this scenario the muscles in the front of the chest become stronger and shorter because they are constantly pulling the shoulders and upper back forward into a rounded shoulder position. This has 2 impacts on the body:

  • the forward pull, puts strain on the muscles in the neck and upper back back
  • It pulls the bones into poor alignment

This posture leads to pain in the neck, upper back and hips can also cause joint pain (bursitis, tendonitis…one of the ititis)


Try This

Stand up, roll your shoulders forward, really exaggerate this. Can you feel the instant strain on the muscles in your neck, shoulders and upper back.

Now stand tall. Head up, chest lifted, shoulders open. Which posture feels better?

It’s not hard to imagine how walking around in a shoulders forward position for 20 years will lead to the neck and back pain many people feel every day

If the bones are pulled into the wrong position in the joint it will cause aggravation and wear and tear on the joints and the muscles associated with the joint. The result is pain and even injury. Think about running. Your hip flexors attach from your lower back to your knees. If your hip flexors are too tight they will pull on your knee and lower back causing the vertebra to press on each other and causing restricted movement in the knee joint. Add to that the impact of a foot strike in running and you can see the outcome – lower back and knee pain.


If your core is strong and the muscles around your joints are strong and balanced it means that you can execute an ideal form. You can produce more power from each swimming stroke with improved reach, go faster when you run and produce more power when you ride from your strong stable core and powerful glutes.



We don’t stretch for stretching sake. Stretching will lengthen the muscles in the hope of returning to that ideal position. Think about the skeleton and muscles again. If your body is in a poor posture the muscles on one side of the joint get tight and pull the bone forward, and the muscles at the back of the joint get long and weak which also enables the bone to be pulled into a poor position

As there is a yin and yang, what we do on one side of the body or joint we need to do the opposite on the other side of the joint. So continuing with the chest example. If we stretch one side of the joint we need to strengthen the muscles on the other side of the joint to be able to hold the muscles in position.

Compare these 2 photos. same person Taken one after the other so there has been no change in body composition. Which person looks slimmer, which person looks fitter, which person looks more confident, which person looks like they’d move more efficiently, have less aches and pain, be faster


Pilates is designed to strengthen the core and develop strong balanced muscles around the joints – it returns the body to its ideal posture and enables you to develop the strength to maintain this posture. Pilates For Sports then teaches you how to apply this to your swim, bike and run so that you can be your best.

If you would like to take the first step to good posture and all of the benefits it provides, why not try our free 28-day Postural Challenge. It’s purely online and is customized to your needs. Click here to join now.

Pilates for Sports

Noeleen O’Shea

Image of Noeleen

Principal Instructor & Co-Founder

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