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Working Out of Joint

A common habit I see in clients at our Pilates studio is working out of their joints. To define this more clearly, working out of a joint is when the arm or leg structure would be moving or working without maintaining a healthy relationship to the shoulder, hip and/or rest of the body.

This is common with people who are hyper mobile in their joints or have loose ligaments, but can be a habit for anyone. When the smaller supporting muscles around a joint are not well balanced for stability, strength and flexibility, the result is additional strain to the structure.

Working in our joints should bring us into better alignment. Let’s define what good alignment is. Desirable alignment is when all the parts of your body maintain a dynamic, harmonious relationship to one other while moving or in rest. This dynamic relationship can be thrown off when we force a pattern on one part of the body without taking into account or addressing how the other parts need to respond. Your body is not static so instead of alignment being a position think in terms of movements or actions bringing your full body into a balanced relationship. Let’s look at some examples where working in your joints helps good alignment.

Lift your arm in front of your shoulder. Lower you arm. Now hug your arm into the shoulder socket and repeat the lifting action. Feel the difference between the two actions. The second uses a different set of muscles and activates more supportive muscles to your core and shoulder. Our legs work with the same principle into our pelvis. One factor to bring up here as you explore the concept is that this action can be overdone and cause too much tension around the joint also. This would bring the opposite result of what we are striving for. If overdone, movement at the joint would be limited. We are striving for freedom of movement!

Try this action while walking up a set of steps. Just walk up the steps without consciously directing your body. Observe how it feels, if you are not accustomed to observing yourself in movement ask someone to give you feedback about how you are using your body as you walk up. Go back down. Now stand still. Become taller, drawing in your abdominals and hug the muscles of your lower body (hips and legs) closer towards one another. Walk up again and focus on pressing your hips forward and up in a smooth action with each step. In between steps, hug your hips and legs snugly towards the center of your body.

If you can feel the difference of the above examples, awesome. If not give it some more time. The plugged in joint example should feel more supportive and energetic as you move. Many common injuries occur when people are moving out of joint as those connective structures are over challenged. This is a simple concept that will help you work more safely with your joints as well as move from a place of strength.


Lesley Davenport, Owner, Founding Director of the Pilates Center of Pittsburgh, LLC, is originally from Marietta, Ohio. A committed dancer at a young age, Lesley studied at Ballet Met Academy in Columbus, Ohio. It was there that she decided to pursue a career in dance and movement. Graduating from Point Park University with a BA in Ballet/Jazz in 1998, she performed and taught dance full-time for the next 5 years. A founding member of H2O Contemporary Dance in 1998, along with partners, Danielle K. Pavlik and Mariah Mcleod, Lesley still actively dances and teaches in H2O’s host school, The Dance Conservatory of Pittsburgh.

In 2000, Lesley began training in the Pilates Method under Gwen Hunter Ritchie. A long-time sufferer of back pain, she was astounded at the changes a steady Pilates routine brought. In 2002, Lesley completed the Core Dynamics Teacher Training Program under Michele Larsson (a second generation Pilates teacher for the enthusiasts out there.) For the next three years, Lesley taught Pilates throughout the Greater Pittsburgh area, at places such as The Rivers Club, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Fox Chapel Myotherapy, Wellspring Studio, and Club One. In 2004, Lesley implemented the Pilates Program at Club One Xpress, South Hills.

Through her many experiences as an instructor, Lesley discovered a need for a training center that fosters athleticism along with artistry of teaching. In 2006, Lesley founded the Pilates Center of Pittsburgh, LLC to fulfill this need. Inspired by the studio’s mission, Lesley returned to her classical roots to resume study of Pilates with Power Pilates of New York City. Completing their program in 2008, Lesley found the perfect fit for the staff of The Pilates Center of Pittsburgh, LLC. Promoting the skills of creativity, clarity, confidence, caution, and compassion in its trainers, Lesley is proud to be a Power Pilates Teacher Trainer. She is an avid student of movement, always craving more and counts among her favorites, yoga, Gyrokinesis, and outdoors adventures with her family.She is on faculty at Point Park University. Lesley lives in Dormont, Pa. with her husband Michael and son Parker.


Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 11:19AM by Registered CommenterPilates-Pro | CommentsPost a Comment

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