Pilates - Neutral Spine
A healthy spine has natural curves that should be preserved and respected but not exaggerated.The term "neutral spine" refers to the natural alignment of the spine. If you have a serious pain in your back, check with a physician before embarking on any exercise programme. The main curves are:
- The cervical spine: The area behind the head, along the back of the neck, is concave, is should curve gently inwards.
- The thoracic vertebrae: The largest area of the back curves very slightly outwards.
- The lumbar spine: The lower back should curve slightly inwards, it should curve slightly inwards, it should not be flat or over-curved.
- The sacral spine: The sacral curve is at the bottom of your spine and curves gently outwards.
It is important to allow the spine to rest in its natural position to prevent stresses and imbalances. During Pilate movements you should ensure that your back is not flat or pushed into the floor, although this can be tempting in order to achieve a flatter tummy. What you tend to do in this position is grip at the hip flexors that is the muscles located at the top of the thighs, thus creating tension in a place that is commonly tight anyway. You must also try to avoid over-curving your spine, as this pushes the abdominals forwards and tightens the muscles around the spine. Neutral spine lies in between these two extremes and echoes the natural and safe position that your spine prefers.
Finding Neutral Spine:
The importance of neutral spine cannot be emphasized enough, as it allows your spine to elongate and relax. Before starting an exercise it can be helpful to roll gently between the two extreme positions and then try to fall comfortably between the two.
- Tilt your pelvis, flattening your back into the floor.
- Tilt your pelvis in the opposite direction, creating an arch under your lower back. Make this movement slow and take care not to hold for too long or you may cause tension in your lower spine.
- Find a position between these two extremes in which your back feels natural and comfortable, this is neutral spine. Unless otherwise stated, you should always work from this position during your Pilates routine.
Planning A Pilates Program