Think about it, however often in your day do you pay attention to your posture? If you don’t do Pilates then I am guessing the answer is not often if at all. Yet our posture plays a large role in how we look, walk, sit and feel on a day to day basis. Bad posture can result in back, neck and shoulder pain along with too tight muscles in some areas and overstretched, weakened muscles elsewhere. Over time poor posture can result in disc issues and degneration of joints.
So in the next few posts I am going to talk through different types of posture, hopefully this will help you identify your own postural imbalances, make you more aware, so that you can focus on correcting the problems.
In this post we are going to recap on Neutral Spine in a lying position.
Neutral spine is the natural position of the spine when all 3 curves of the spine — cervical (neck), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower) — are present and in good alignment. This is the strongest position for the spine when we are standing or sitting, and the one that we are made to move from. Knowing how to find the neutral spine position is crucial for doing many Pilates exercises correctly.
Neutral spine lying down:
1. Feet hip socket distance apart, flat on the floor, straight and facing forward.
2. Knees bent, a small gap between them.
3. Pelvis rocked into neutral so it is neither tilted up (lower back pressed into the floor) or tilted under (large curve through the lower back). The hip bones should be lined up and you should feel you are flat from hip bone to hip bone and through to the pubic bone.
4. Slight natural curve through the lower back, think about being able to pass an envelope underneath.
5. Shoulder blades slid down in the back.
6. Neck long with the chin slightly tilted towards the chest as if you were clasping an orange between your chin and your chest.
Just lying in this neutral position can help with back ache, try lying there for 5 minutes, release the tension in your neck and shoulder, drawing your core and relax yout bum, thighs and feet. Take a few deep breaths. Feels good doesn’t it!
Neutral pelvis is a funny concept where we aim to keep the pelvis neither tilted up or under but in “neutral alignment”. The idea is to have a straight line from hip bone to hip bone and to be flat from that hip bone area all the way through to the pubic bone. With Neutral spine it can be simpler to think of the spine being straight, however this isn’t actually true! When lying down there will be a slight natural curve in the lower back, for some this will be bigger than others. Think about being able to pass an envelope underneath your lower back and get your instructor to check if you are not sure.
Most people find getting into neutral is relatively easy to achieve at the start of an exercise but maintaining it is the tricky bit. My top tips are to:
1. Think about the lower back being heavy and almost sinking into the back (we don’t actually want it to do this but the imagery can help)
2. Think about there being a heavy weight on the ribcage holding you down to the mat.
3. Keep the sides of the body long and strong to hold you still.
4. Think about the core being weighty as this is what is keeping you in neutral.
If you feel yourself coming out of neutral, stop the exercise, check your core is drawn in and then try again. You may need to make the movement smaller until your body is a bit stronger.