Does Pilates Help With Posture?




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Having good posture is important for our ability to function and perform everyday tasks efficiently. When we have bad posture, we can experience a lot of back pain and discomfort. Engaging in regular exercise can improve one’s posture and pilates can help with this as well.

Frequent practice of Pilates helps to improve posture by targeting the specific muscle groups that are engaged in one’s posture. The focus of Pilates is to strengthen the core and stretch one’s muscles. These focuses lead to improved posture, as well as improved flexibility and blood circulation.

This article will discuss what muscles are engaged in our body to create our posture and how pilates plays a role in this. We’ll also focus briefly on the other health benefits that regularly practicing pilates can give you.


Posture can be simply explained as having our body in alignment. This means that the head, shoulder, and pelvic girdle are all adjusted to form a straight, vertical line. When they are aligned in this way, the body maintains the natural curvatures of the spine. Our posture is not something that we actively control; the muscle groups responsible for holding our posture do this automatically. When we begin to feel chronic back pain or discomfort, this means that our body is out of its natural alignment (or posture).

We can do things that will improve and strengthen those muscle groups so that they function more effectively. When the muscles that control our posture begin to tire, we begin to slouch. This is as automatic as hunching our bodies when we are cold. Our brain is receiving signals from our muscles that they are tiring and need to rest.

By doing exercises such as yoga or Pilates, we can strengthen those muscles to help them be more resilient. We will experience less muscle fatigue and back pain as well, which we will cover more deeply in a moment.

Muscles Affecting Posture & Muscular Function

Our skeletal systems and musculoskeletal systems are amazingly complex. The two work together to control our posture. As you know, our bones provide the structure that our bodies need and help to support our weight. Our musculoskeletal system helps us to walk, lift, and contract our muscles.

Because the two systems work so closely together, it is important that we understand how they are interrelated. Our skeletal system provides the structure for our posture—in this case, our hips, spine, and femurs. Problems with any of these bones will affect our posture. The muscles in our musculoskeletal that affect our posture are the hamstrings, large back muscles, and the oblique, flexor, and extensor muscles.

We’ll briefly cover how each of these muscles works in relation to our posture:


When it comes to our posture, our hamstring muscles are primarily engaged while we stand. The hamstrings work to help the extension of our thighs, rotations of our tibial bones, and flexion of the knee. When we sit, the hamstring muscles are the ones that we sit on. They connect to our buttocks, which allows our weight to be distributed evenly to our legs.

Oblique Muscles

The oblique muscles in our back are located next to the lumbar region of our spine. These muscles are responsible for the rotation of the body. This rotation is for the trunk of our body. There are muscle groups that help with the rotation of our shoulders that are separate from the oblique muscles. However, the main rotation that occurs in controlling our posture comes from the oblique muscles.

Flexor Muscles

The flexor muscles in our back are in a similar location. As the name suggests, these muscles are responsible for the back’s ability to flex. Additionally, they assist the body in bending forward, lifting objects, and arching our lower back. This means that when these muscles fatigue, we will naturally bend forward.

Extensor Muscles

The extensor muscles, as the name suggests, are responsible for the back’s ability to extend. In this case, this means that these muscles help the body in standing and lifting. When these muscles fatigue, our bodies will go into a slouched position, whether we are standing or sitting.

All of these muscle groups, as well as our large back muscles, gluteal muscles, and erector spinae, work together in forming our posture. (These other muscle groups function in a similar capacity to the ones described above and will not be covered in-depth because of this.) So, how does practicing Pilates regularly help strengthen these muscles in a way that improves our posture?

Focus of Pilates

The practice of Pilates was created to directly strengthen the core of the body. The core of the body is made up of your abdominal muscles, lower back, hips, and buttocks. By creating a series of stretches and exercises targeting these muscles, Joseph Pilates (the creator of Pilates) wanted to prevent chronic joint and back pain. These stretches allow your muscles to work more effectively and fatigue less quickly. The stretches use both dynamic and static exercises to help target all muscle groups.

Even though the direct focus of Pilates is focused on the core muscles of the body, these practices have a direct effect on the muscles that impact our posture. One of the targeted muscles groups in the practice of Pilates is the lower back. As was discussed earlier in the article, our posture is made up of the low back muscles. The buttock muscles (which are muscles engaged in maintaining our posture) are also targeted in Pilates. In Pilates, the exercises are designed to be slow and deliberate. The muscles are strengthened through tension and elongation.

One of the most important things in Pilates is focusing on the breath. Having proper breathing patterns while you do Pilates is essential. When you breathe properly, it activates your muscles more fully. It also helps to reduce the levels of stress in your body. You also direct your breath to the sides of your ribcage so you can still engage your abdominal muscles while exercising. Proper breathing also helps to reduce your risk of being injured when you move through the series of positions in your exercise.

Exercises Targeting Muscles Controlling Posture

Even though improving one’s posture is not the direct goal of practicing Pilates, all of the exercises do lead to this improvement. There are PIlates exercises that have been created simply to focus on strengthening the muscle groups that control your posture. However, in order to get the best results for your posture, you need to practice Pilates 2-3 times a week.

When you exercise or do Pilates, your muscles are damaged. Luckily, it is not enough to damage to do any harm to your body if you are careful in your exercise routines. While you sleep, your cells will repair the damage that has been done to those muscles. This creates more muscle mass, which makes them stronger. This process will occur again and again, which allows your muscles to become stronger and stronger.

The exercises that you do to improve your posture focus on your lower back. They help to specifically focus on having the body in proper alignment. In the video below, Jessica Valant (a Pilates instructor) takes you through a series of exercises that help you improve your posture. All of the stretches really focus on the lower back. You focus on curling your spine and using those postural muscles.

Other Benefits of Pilates

If improving your posture isn’t your main goal when you do Pilates, it is a great side-benefit. We’ll also discuss some of the other benefits that you will find when you practice Pilates regularly.

Core and Joint Strength

As we mentioned, the main focus of Pilates is to improve your core posture. When you have a strong core and more stability, you are less likely to fall, your muscles will function more effectively, and you will have a greater range of motion. If you struggle with your balance, practicing Pilates will also help to improve your balance. You have to focus and isolate the muscles that you are using, which helps you to become more aware of how your body is moving.

Practicing Pilates also helps to improve the strength of your joints. Obviously, we put a lot of strain on our joints during the day. Stretching irregularly can cause the joints in our bodies to weaken more quickly. When practicing Pilates, the lengthening of our muscles directly improves the strength in our joints. This will help you to stand for long periods of time without putting excess strain on your joints.


When you practice Pilates, you have to stretch your body a lot. At first, you may not be able to stretch very far, but as you continue, your flexibility will improve. This is because you are continually working on that range of motion in that stretch. Each time you practice a specific exercise, your muscles will be able to lengthen a little bit further. This practice in flexibility also helps to keep your muscles more limber because of the oxygenated blood that is being circulated to those muscles.

Improved Blood Circulation

Perhaps one of the biggest improvements that you will see almost immediately is the improvement in your blood circulation. Obviously, you won’t be able to physically see your red blood cells being circulated through your body more efficiently. However, you will begin to notice that you have more energy. Because you are working your muscles more, your body has to provide more oxygen to those muscle groups. Doing Pilates helps your blood to move more easily through your body.

Better Spine Alignment

When you engage in Pilates, you focus on having proper spine alignment. As you continue to use this practice, you will find that your body will be better aligned. You will begin to naturally sit with better posture for longer periods of time. This will help reduce the back pain that you may be experiencing because your muscles are under less stress. You will also be more aware of your posture and when your body is out of alignment. This will help you to be more careful about the way you move and lift because you want to keep your body in its best condition.

Avoiding Pain

Pain is definitely something that is not enjoyable. No one wants to deal with chronic back pain or strained muscles. It just adds to the stress that is already present in day-to-day life. Pilates is a great way of reducing unwanted muscle pain. One area in our body that stores a lot of stress is our neck. Pilates helps to take that strain off our neck and helps us to use other muscles instead. Practicing Pilates regularly also helps to reduce back problems and back pain that make life incredibly uncomfortable.

It also helps to decrease your chances of getting a slipped disc. You are doing exercises that promote a healthy and strong spine. A slipped disc happens when our spinal discs become weak and you rotate in a way that causes it to slip out of place. Slipped discs cause a great deal of pain. Pilates helps you to strengthen the muscles running next to your spine, which will help to keep that pain from occurring.

Whether you decide to do Pilates, yoga, aerobic exercise, or any other form of exercise, it is important to do it carefully. All types of exercise will help you to improve your muscular strength and endurance. You will have better blood circulation and more energy. Some forms of exercise may target more muscle groups than others, so it is important that you decide what you want to work on.

If you are unsure of how much effort you want to put into exercise, Pilates is a great step exercise. You can start with simple stretches and then increase the level of difficulty you want to try. Whatever you decide to do, it is important that you are exercising; your body needs it!

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