Achieve a Neutral Spine
Many of us work jobs or do activities in our daily lives that have a negative impact on our posture. Whether it’s sitting in front of a computer, constant bending over and lifting or simply being on your feet all day; these simple things can really upset our spines. Maintaining a neutral spine is easier than you think, and it will drastically improve your quality of life in the long run! All it takes is a little bit of awareness…
The first step is to understand the correct spine posture. Our spines have 3 natural curves. The lumbar spine (lower back) curves inward, the thoracic spine (mid-back) is curved outward, and the cervical spine (upper back and neck) has a slight forward curve. Hence why we refer to a pain-free, healthy posture as a ‘neutral spine’ rather than a straight spine.
I’m sure you recall all those years of teachers shouting, “Sit up straight!” We now know they should have been shouting, “Sit neutral!”
Achieving a neutral spine posture is pretty simple. Most of the work stems from mind power, with a little helping hand from our pelvis and shoulders.
Finding Neutral Spine Alignment
This is a basic exercise that you can apply to the body anytime, anywhere. Even sitting down!
- Bring your feet together so that the big toes are touching and the outsides of the feet are parallel.
- From here, you’re going to inhale and begin to visualise what a neutral spine should look like.
- As you exhale, you’ll tilt the front of your pelvis back, pushing your belly button towards your spine.
- On your next exhalation, drop your shoulders away from your ears and roll them back (you’ve suddenly realised how much you were slouching!)
- Finally, tuck the chin very slightly.
Voilà! It’s almost as if your spine is smiling at you!
The pelvic tilt and shoulder alignment are enough to keep your spine in a neutral position. The work from your pelvic floor creates a stable base for your spine and by consciously engaging your core muscles; you’re creating strength with minimal effort. It’s important to incorporate this movement into all parts of your day to prevent stiffness or injuries, especially during your workout.
Eventually it will become a habit, and you’ll be standing or sitting with a neutral spine without even realising. For the meantime, it can help to set yourself reminders on your smartphone, or leave a sticky note above your computer screen reminding yourself to- ‘sit neutral!’
Your workout, yoga practice and everyday life will suddenly seem a lot more comfortable!