Pilates and the Spine
The spine is an amazing structure, it extends from the base of the skull to the pelvis and consists of a series of irregularly shaped bones called vertebrae which increase in size from the top
In young children, 33 separate vertebrae can be identified; however, by the time we become adults five have fused to form the sacrum and four to form the coccyx. Of the remaining 24, seven are found in the neck (cervical vertebrae), twelve articulate with the ribs (thoracic vertebrae) and five are found in the lower back (lumbar vertebrae).
All movement of the trunk is due to the spine this movement occurs between the vertebrae because the resilient intervertebral discs are slightly flexible, with the type of movement permitted in each region being largely determined by the shape and orientation of the joint surfaces between the vertebrae.
In the cervical and lumbar regions where the discs are thick, the range of movement between adjacent vertebrae is increased. Individual movement between vertebrae is small, However, when added over the whole of the vertebral column the total range of motion becomes considerable.
The basic movements of the vertebral column are flexion (forward bending) and extension (backward bending), lateral flexion (side bending) and rotation to the right or left about a vertical axis. Of these, lateral flexion and rotation are always associated movements and neither can take place independently of the other.
Indeed, it has been shown for the lumbar region that there is always coupling of movements, so that pure movements in any direction do not occur.
All movements are available in all regions of the spine, however the availability and degree of movements differ greatly For example the amount of rotation available from cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions are 50°, 35° & 5° respectively.
As we age, if we don’t look after spinal mobility the total range of movement decreases so that at 65 years it is between one-half and one-third of that at age 10.
Pilates exercises are great for strengthening and/or mobilising each region of your spine, no matter what your age.
Joseph Pilates said
If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.
If you have any questions relating to your spine and appropriate Pilates exercises for you, feel free to get in touch.
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