Neutral Spine

What is A Neutral Spine?

Maintaining the lumbar spine’s neutral position as you carry on your normal activities is key to preventing injury. Neutral spine position is the term used to describe the low back’s natural position so that it is neither too flexed (bent forward) or too extended (bent backwards). To familiarize yourself with what the neutral spinal position is, we have to explore the lumbar spine’s full range of motion by performing pelvic tilts and extensions in various positions. By rolling your pelvis forwards and backwards in various positions, you will feel how your low back follows by bending forwards and backwards.

page 82When looking at the spine from the side as in the diagram, the normal curve of the lumbar region is called a lordosis. This means that the curve is convex towards the abdomen. Rolling your pelvis forwards will cause the lumbar spine to arch or extend, increasing the lordosis. This is not to be confused with bending backwards at the waist because when you bend backwards your torso (rib cage) moves backwards whereas when you simply roll the pelvis to arch the low back, the torso will remain directly over top of the pelvis. Rolling the pelvis backwards (pelvic tilt) will cause the lumbar spine to flex which will decrease the lordosis. Again this should not be confused with bending forwards at the waist because when you bend forwards your torso will move out in front of your pelvis whereas when you simply roll the pelvis, the torso will remain directly over top of the pelvis. Rolling the pelvis from the extremes forwards and backwards will allow you to feel the full range of motion of the lumbar spine.

Once you know the extremes of the ranges of motion, then you can find the neutral position by allowing your body to rest in between the extremes.

Finding Neutral Spine

To be able to apply the neutral to every day conditions and activities, you need to gain an awareness of where neutral spine position is in a variety of postures. You do this by exploring the full low back and pelvic range of motion by performing anterior and posterior pelvic tilts (i.e. rolling the pelvis forwards and backwards) in various positions and postures.

Check out this video where I describe how to find Neutral Spine while in different positions such as lying on your back, kneeling, sitting, on all fours and standing.

Here is the same approach covered in the video but this time with pictures.

  1. Hook lying (lying on your back with your knees and hips drawn up to 90o.

Roll the pelvis backwards to flatten your spine against the floor and then roll your pelvis forwards to arch your back.

  1. Lying on back (“supine”) with legs extended.

As with the last position, roll your pelvis backwards to flatten your spine against the floor and then roll your pelvis forwards to arch your back.

  1. Seated.

Roll your pelvis forwards to arch your back and then roll your pelvis backwards to flatten your back.

 

  1. Standing.

Roll your pelvis forward to increase the arch in your back then roll your pelvis backwards to flatten your back.

 

 

  1. “Quadriped”, or kneeling on all fours.

Roll your pelvis forwards to increase the arch in your back (abdomen drops towards the floor) then roll your pelvis backwards to flatten your back.

 

 

  1. Kneeling with buttocks on knees.

Roll your pelvis forwards to arch your back then roll your pelvis backwards to flatten your back.

 

 

 

 

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