Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about “posture assessments.” My instructor never gave me a formal assessment, and I was wondering if I should get one. Would it help?
Posture assessment should be an ongoing and integral part of your Pilates training. You use the phrase “formal assessment”. This may be misleading. I do not believe you need to be assessed with sophisticated equipment or tests. That said, your posture should dictate your program and the choice of exercises in your program. This is an ever-evolving process, and one that will certainly benefit your practice and your wellbeing.
Your Pilates teacher should view every exercise as a tool of analysis. The execution of each movement conveys a wealth of information about your posture, movement habits and imbalances (which we all have), which can then be translated into the design of your program. For example, take two common posture types like hyperlordosis and flat back posture. The choice of exercises and even the emphasis in each exercise would differ substantially. These posture types are accompanied by a very different set of patterns, in terms of tightness and weaknesses.
This is a fascinating area of study, one that can help greatly in bringing about the desired changes you may be aiming for in your Pilates practice. You may even stand an inch or two taller!
All things being equal, what’s the best time of day to practice Pilates? And if I’m also doing cardio, weights, etc., what’s the best way to schedule a balanced week?
I do not believe there is an across-the-board “best time” to practice Pilates.. The decision is individual and leans on both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. We all have our personal biorhythms. Some people are morning people and some are night people.
I personally love the early morning. I get up around 4.30-5am and doing a session at that time, particularly a mat session, is a joy. It sets me up for the day. However, my morning sessions are typically mellower than sessions later in the day. I do not often do sessions after 6pm. Some people love evening sessions. Work, kids and other extrinsic factors will also dictate when you practice. The key is to make practice a part of your life.
To a degree, balancing your Pilates practice with cardio and weights, is also individual. Often this is as much mental as physical. The effects on the musculature after doing Pilates are not the same as heavy weight training, and I do no believe there needs to be the same “down time” to allow muscle tissue to recover. Pilates places relatively light loads on the musculature; therefore, doing weight training the day after Pilates or Pilates the day after weight training should not have adverse effects.
Cardio can be performed on the same day as the others or on alternate days. It is better to distribute the workouts throughout the week rather than load certain days. I would not suggest Pilates and weight training on the same day, but doing cardio on the same day as Pilates and weight training can yield benefits. If you do so, I recommend doing the cardio first followed by either Pilates or weight training. It’s all about balance and keeping your regimen fresh.
This article first appeared in the June/2010 issue of Pilates Style Magazine. For more great stories about Pilates, check out the latest issue of Pilates Style, on newsstands nationwide, in the app store or at www.pilatesstyle.com.