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What is a neutral spine and why should you care?

by | Aug 30, 2020 | Training

You might have different activities and movements throughout the day. But when you’re sitting, reaching for something, lifting, or working out, you probably won’t focus on your spine. That’s why we unconsciously lose our neutral spine many times throughout the day, and some of us have lost the habit of keeping straight posture.

But what is exactly a neutral spine? Why should you care? And, what can you do to achieve a better posture?

What is a neutral spine?

A neutral spine is a natural and healthy posture that maintains your vertebrae in place. You can basically say you have a neutral spine when it is not twisted.

Instead, it is aligned and follows its natural curves without any stress. This is a neutral spine, and the ideal posture to improve stability and balance. It is not the same as keeping your back stiff, and it is not necessarily straight because your spine has natural curves.

Sit up straight

We were constantly told to sit up straight when we were kids. But after we’ve grown up, it is more important than ever.

Actually, keeping a neutral spine has multiple health benefits:

  • It promotes stability and balance for younger and older individuals
  • It facilitates breathing
  • It reduces the incidence of back pain
  • It contributes to blood circulation and oxygenation
  • It reduces the risk of injuries during a workout

We can achieve that by understanding the natural curves of the spine. They are three natural curves found in the lumbar spine (which curves inward), the thoracic spines (which curves outward), and the cervical spine (which is slightly curved forward).

Thus, even if we are constantly told to sit straight, we’re not meant to have a literally straight spine.

How to align your spine

Awareness is the key to align your spine in a neutral position. You can go back to a neutral spine when you detect you’re sitting with your neck bent forward, a hunched back, or awkwardly leaning to one side.

But after growing aware of a poor position, here’s what you can do to realign your spine:

  • Inhale deeply, and visualize a correct spinal posture
  • Place your feet parallel in front of you
  • Tilt your pelvis back very lightly by bringing your belly button to your spine
  • Focus on your shoulders, bringing them down and rolling them back
  • Lightly tuck the chin
  • Breathe deeply once again and relax the muscles of your back

If you make this exercise a habit, you will ultimately grow your awareness and achieve a neutral spine faster. It will also prevent injury and stiffness if you’re working out.

It is normal if you now realize you’re constantly slouching, especially if you’ve been doing that for quite a long time. But after establishing the habit of a neutral position, it will feel more natural and you will stop slouching. As you do, set reminders and leave notes to yourself, and instead of writing “sit straight!”, you may want to replace that for “sit neutral!”.

What does our Personal Trainer say about it?

Watch this video for a couple of words from our very own FA60 PT, Fred…

Do you still need help? If we don’t set ourselves up correctly then everyday tasks can cause long-term issues. Whoever said “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” never understood how the mind works? It takes the human mind 8-12 weeks to form a habit, no matter what your age. Check out our 12-Week Habit Former program to learn how to build your healthy habits. A few simple things each day can build confidence in how you move to give you greater enjoyment out of life.

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