What do I think just about everybody needs? Extension Please! Truly – we are such a flexion focused society. We sit hunched over laptops and iPods and iPads. We hunch forward in our cars. We slump on the sofa or prop ourselves up in bed to read or watch tv. Whether we mean to or not – we spend a good part of our time in flexion. Flexion becomes our normal posture.
This can lead to problems. The continued pull on the posterior chain and shortening of the anterior muscles leads to imbalances. If you think you have chronically tight hamstrings … what you may have is chronically pulled and stretched hamstrings from too much flexion. Low back issues can also be attributed to too much flexion. Short , tight hip flexors are another result of too much flexion.
So what do you do? For starters pay attention to your posture. Try to sit up straight when you can. Stand from time to time through your day if you have a desk job. Sit on an exercise ball at work or at home to work those core muscles and create good balanced posture.
Secondly, come to Pilates class. I make sure to include some extensions in every class (unless you have condition or issue that prevents extension). We do chest expansion to stretch out your pectorals (chest muscles). We do back extension to work you upper and lower back. Swimming is a great way to strengthen the length of the posterior. Even planks require us to find the long line of the body.
Some students find much relief in doing extension. Their body craves that stretch and lengthening. Some students don’t like it because it feels unnatural … more than likely because they are so accustomed to flexion. The good news is over time your body will adapt and embrace extension and thank you for it!
Next class ask about extension and I’ll be sure to point out how, when and why we are doing it!