Being in the therapy and fitness industry for 25+ years, I specialize in spine health. I teach neutral spine, meaning head, shoulders, hips on the floor at all times. Most adults have or develop a forward head posture over time and I just don’t understand the concept of Pilates that encourages unnecessary cervical flexion. As a perfect example, all you have to do is look at the most recent edition of IDEA Pilates Today “Uniting the Industry: Transforming Stories”. Granted I did not read the whole article, but that picture hurts my neck just to look at; as I see an older lady standing with her head in that position…Why?
I can’t speak for all of the pilates methods that are being taught. I can only speak about Stott Pilates where I have taken my training.
The backbone of a pilates (at least on a individual basis is a postural assessment). Without the assessment one can’t design a program appropriate for that individual’s posture.
All I can say is that a pilates instructor or a personal trainer for that matter will choose exercises that are appropriate for the client based upon subjective and objective assessments.
Many Pilates organizations are addressing this. Their take is that if Joseph Pilates were alive he would be limiting the cervical (and spinal flexion) exercises. Pilates was developed for dancers who do a great deal of extension, it made sense to counter balance this with flexion. For our modern world and forward head clients it does not make sense. I know Leslee Bender has stated in her lectures that she no longer does flexion with most of her Pilates clients. It also leads to the question why are so many fitness trainers and instructors still doing so many crunches?
I can speak on this subject. I took Stott Mat Pilates training ~3 yrs ago with the intention of becoming certified. A car accident(serious) changed my plans.
However, biomechanically, exercises such as rollover place the cervical region in excessive flexion.
Placing our bodies in a pose that is creating shortening on one side of the joint will always elongate the opposing side.
The problem with prolonged poses is that this is a static stress that if peformed over and repeatedly, is similar to a repetitive strain injury(RSI). Placing stress on the connective tissue, primary ligaments(which attach bone to bone and SHOULD NOT be taken to end of range),
disc and the joint.
Moderation is key and more importantly, apply the appropriate exercises with the client and always modifications should be made to accomodate the pathology or past medical history or injury.