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Do you have one of these posture problems?

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Brooke SilerPilates gurus are obsessed with correcting bad posture, but that's because pretty much everyone has it, says New York celebrity instructor and re:AB Pilates owner Brooke Siler. Plus, its long-term effects are huge.

"If you're imbalanced in your body, that means some of your muscles are compensating for other muscles, and eventually the guys doing all of the work are going to quit," Siler explains. "You may not feel it in your 20s or notice it, but there’s a point at which the body just says 'enough.'"

To help you avoid this postural predicament, Siler dedicated a large section of her brand-new book, The Women's Health Big Book of Pilates, to teaching you how to align what she calls "your divine spine." (The book also includes a ton of other intel, kind of like a Pilates Encyclopedia Britannica.)

First step: understanding what the heck is wrong with your posture to begin with. Here, Siler walks us through the four most common postural imbalances that stem from your 30-pound handbag to hunching over your laptop. And in the book, each comes with a detailed Pilates prescription for banishing your issue for good. —Lisa Elaine Held

Photo: Brooke Siler

 
Brooke SilerKypohotic-Lordotic Posture

You might have it if: You work at a desk (Hello, everyone!)

This is the hunched-over-your-desk condition that almost every office worker alive can claim. Cyclists (outdoor or of the spin-class variety) may also be especially at risk. Siler's prescription includes exercises that align the body from the bottom up and stretch the hip flexors, chest, and upper back.

Photo: The Women's Health Big Book of Pilates

 
Brooke SilerFlat-Back Posture

You might have it if: You're in a leadership role


"This is common among people who are often trying to command a room," Siler says. CEOs who are trying to look oh-so-in-control may exaggerate the act of standing up straight, and too much of anything always goes wrong. Exercises to correct it seek to open the sides of the body around the ribs, loosen the hamstrings, balance the feet, and more.

Photo: The Women's Health Big Book of Pilates

 
Brooke SilerSwayback Posture

You might have it if: You're not sure of yourself

"A teacher may say you're stuck on an exhale," Siler explains, noting that this sunken-chest posture is common among those who are feeling down and out. (Yes, postures and emotions can definitely be linked.) To fix it, she'll teach you to strengthen your psoas, glutes, and external obliques and increase hip flexion. And maybe encourage other activities that boost your confidence and feeling of personal awesomeness.

Photo: The Women's Health Big Book of Pilates

 
Brooke SilerPostural Scoliosis

You might have it if: Your handbag is heavier than the average toddler

Damn your 30-pound handbag! While the other postures are front-to-back imbalances, this one is side-to-side, and what you carry and how you stand can influence it a ton. "A lot of people don’t notice it, but they may get a blister on one ankle from their shoe and not the other," Siler says. Correcting it involves balancing muscle length and strength on your right and left.

Photo: The Women's Health Big Book of Pilates

 

2 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. October 27th, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    And, it is never too late (or too early) to improve, repair the body. If one does not do anything about it, pain is greater in future and almost never localized. Unfortunately.

  2. Diana
    February 1st, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Great article!
    People don’t care at all about their posture, they don’t realise how much pain can be caused by hours and hours spent in the front of their computers or TV in a wrong position. Thank you! Keep up the good work!

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