Inner Strength Pilates: How to Improve Upper Body Posture

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One of Australia’s leading Pilates studios has this week released a brand new video outlining ways to improve the posture of the upper body through a series of easy back strengthening exercises using body bolsters.

Inner Strength Pilates and Barre Adelaide

Inner Strength Pilates and Barre Adelaide

It's the technique that's important, rather than how high up you can get.

Instructor and owner at Adelaide-based Inner Strength Pilates, Tamara Gollan explains in her blog post Pilates Workout - Upper Body Back Strengthening Exericse to Improve Posture that the exercises are particularly useful to individuals who may have a lumbar spine discrepancy such as a bulge, and to those who are keen to strengthen their lower back area either because of a recent injury or as a future preventative measure. The back strengthening exercises are also excellent for dancers, gymnasts and other athletics performers looking to improve their back extension, former professional dancer Gollan explains.

She explains in her video Pilates Workout – Upper Back Strengthening Exercise to Improve Upper Body Posture that carrying out the exercise first involves placing the bolster in front of the face while lying flat on the stomach on the floor. The arms are lengthened so that the top of them are lying over the bolster with the hands open and the little fingers pointing towards the ground. The head should be relaxed and facing towards the floor. The position of the bottom and legs should remain relaxed with the heels facing away from each other and the feet feeling floppy.

Exercise coach Gollan continues: “You’re going to breathe in to prepare. On the breathe out you want to engage your core and then you want to slide your shoulder blades down the back and then you’re going to lengthen through the crown of the head as you lift up. Inhale to go back down.”

Gollan urges that it’s important to ensure that the shoulders don’t cave in towards the head but remain ‘strong’ and away from the ears. The next step is for the body to rise from the mat as high as possible from the floor but without either the hips or the public bone leaving the mat.

According to Gollan the exercise works by strengthening the muscles which pull the shoulder blades down the back, therefore affecting the lumbar spine. It is also important to try to lengthen the spine while also keeping the neck in alignment, she insists.

She does go on to admit that the exercise can be “tricky,” particularly as the legs must remain relaxed, the core engaged, the shoulders low in the back and the spine lengthened simultaneously. But she has plenty of words of encouragement too.

“It's the technique that's important, rather than how high up you can get,” she says. “Focus on the technique and you’ll remain more centered on the ground.”

To learn more exercises about strengthening particular areas of the body using Pilates and barre classes that you can do either at home or in the studio, then Inner Strength Pilates has a whole series of videos on its website. It’s also possible to book a particular tutorial to see the exercise in action and take part in a class. The two studios boast three instructors, including Gollan.

More information can be gleaned from the website at

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Tamara Abdilla

Tamara Abdilla
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