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What is Neutral Spine and Why should I care about it?

If you have ever seen the human spine in pictures on skeletons you may have noticed the spine is not a flat or straight structure.  The spine has a natural “S” curve to it as seen below…

As we age, and become more or less active certain muscles will activate and other will not.  Muscles dictate the bone’s position, and therefore muscles dictate your posture.

As you can see in the above picture image “A” is of ideal posture; What to look for are: The ear, shoulder, the lower spine and hip joint, knees and ankles line up…
Translation= No Pain!  The body can function in good working order without being taxing on joints and/or pressure points.

In image “B” you can see a big curve in the upper back, and the head is pushed forward…
Translation= PAIN; typically people will complain of neck and mid back/shoulder discomfort as those areas are out of their ideal position.

In image “C” you can see the spine is very flat and the hips are tucked under, this posture is typical of a “sloucher”…
Translation= PAIN; with the spine being straightened out so much the neck, lower back and hips can become aggravated.

Finally in image “D” the upper back is rounded more than it needs to be and the hips shift forward…
Translation= PAIN; The head and forward which can strain the neck, the hips forward can aggravate the lower back and each hip.

You might think to yourself you have seen people walking around that look like this, or you may feel that your posture may resemble one of the above.  I see postures B, C and D as ticking time bombs.  The less “Ideal” our posture is, the more likely we are to overuse certain muscles, tendons and joints.  The more things get over used the more likely they will break down, and when they break down WE HURT!

Here’s an interesting fact to think about…the spine houses the spinal cord, the spinal cord sends signals from our brain to our body, if the spine is out of posture, the spinal cord will be out of posture and our bodies will not work as optimally as we want them to.  If we cannot efficiently instruct our body and force movements instead, guess what You will HURT!

I never had a client come in and say, “I want to be weaker, I want my posture to suck and I want to be horrible at sports.”  Its the opposite, people want better posture, want to be stronger in sports and DON’T WANT PAIN!
So train for it!  When my clients come in the gym, my goal is to encourage neutral spine during training.  Training with neutral spine will increase your core strength, and encourage you to activate your shoulders and hips.  That encourages overall strength and posture and more importantly relieve movement related (or lack of movement) pains.

Check these movements out to improve your posture and core strength!
Side Plank
Hip Hinge


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