Neutral spine is a phrase that is often misunderstood and not achieved. I’ve come to realize that when it is said, the people saying it are referring only to the lower back portion of the spine. This is only part of the puzzle; albeit, an important part. Neutral spine is speaking of your entire spine. You have 3 curvatures in your spine; 1 in your neck (cervical spine), one in your middle back (thoracic spine, and one in your lower back (lumbar spine. These 3 regions of your spine have varying degrees of curvatures, and when the degrees of the curves are thrown out of a safe balance, this causes problems, pains, and injuries in your spine or somewhere else in the body. So, finding and working in neutral is very important, and can bring great strength gains.
For simplicity’s sake, use these tips to find your neutral spine:
- Imagine there is a string attached to the sides of both shoulders, and someone is pulling the strings to create width across your chest and shoulders. Your shoulders should go slightly back and your collar bones should feel like they spread farther apart from one another. Now sit your head back ever so slightly, so that it sits directly between both shoulders and your neck feels lengthened.
- Imagine someone’s hands are around your ribs, and they are squeezing, and you are drawing your ribs in to avoid being crushed. (I don’t like the corset analogy because you would then only have tightening around your waist/belly button area and your ribs would be flaring out). This drawing in of your ribs ideally should happen on an exhale (on the inhale, your ribs should expand 3 dimensionally).
- Feel your front hip bones, and your pubic bone lifting up towards your belly button as your abdominals tighten: simultaneously, pull your tailbone up towards the back of your head. It’s very important that you tighten your abdominals and start to pull your lower abdominals and belly button upwards towards your spine. These two moves counter one another, and should put you in your neutral lumbar position. You should feel solid and immovable in this position, with lower back and abdominal muscles working together.
If you can affect these positions, and hold them through breathing, and certain exercises, you will achieve amazing strength gains, improved posture, and core awareness. These positions are your Neutral Spine.!!!