As we have all started living more sedentary lifestyles at work and at home, static posture have become the new normal and the incidence of back, neck and spinal pain has increased. This means that we have to be much more conscious of the way we hold our bodies, and make an effort to move well
But what is the good anatomical alignment?
Ideal spinal alignment for humans, or our “neutral spine”, resembles and S-Shape. We should have an anteriorly tilted pelvis with your bottom out (of approximately 15˚), and arch or lordosis in our lower back (of 30-50˚), a rounded upper back or kyphosis (of 20-50˚) and another arch in our necks or lordosis (of 20-40˚).
This is the optimal position for our spines to be in for a number of reasons:
Upright Posture: All of these arches and curves in our spine allow us to stand upright. The tilt of the pelvis pulls our body weight over our legs, and the arch in our lower back and each other curve up our spine stacks our body upright. The arches and curves in our back allows us to stand erect – if we were meant to have a flat back (which we thought many years ago) we would be like all other four-legged animals and would have never stood upright and we wouldn’t walk on our feet.
Load Sharing: Simply put, holding the spine in neutral allows the weight and force of the body to be transmitted evenly through each vertebrae. If you habitually hold yourself out of neutral, more force will be taken by some joints and less through others. In time, this can cause pain and stop you doing what you love.
Muscle Orientation: Many muscles in our body that hold us upright attach to different vertebraes in our spines. Neutral spine position allows these muscles to work appropriately and effectively. If posture is not held in neutral, some muscles won’t work properly and others will have to compensate to support the weight of the body, leading to muscle tightness, cramping, pain and weakness (Wallden, 2009). Rehabilitation sessions at Bodyworks will teach you to align your spine properly by strengthening these muscles, enabling you to move freely and without tension.
Joint Health: When the spine is in its neutral position, it allows for the most space between each vertebrae as they are aligned in their natural curves. If particular segments of the spine are too flexed, they can increase the pressure between the vertebrae and squash the spongy shock-absorbing disc that lies between them. Conversely, if the spine is too extended, it can decrease the space of the foramen or hole in the side of the vertebrae where the nerves pass through, thus placing pressure on them.
So as you can see, holding your spine in neutral alignment and being conscious of the way you move is very important. At Bodyworks we run both private and group rehabilitation sessions where we teach you to align yourself in neutral, thus offloading tension and strengthening spine stabilising muscles, so that they work to pull you into neutral spine subconsciously. We also stress the importance of being able to move in multiple planes and different ways and come back to using neutral spine functionally. It’s a great way to improve your posture, all while getting a fun and challenging workout. If you want to book yourself into a pilates class or wish to discuss more, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 9381 5565.
AMTA Pelvic Girdle & Lumbar Spine Therapist
STOTT Pilates Instructor
AAP Dry Needling Therapist
Wallden, M. The neutral spine principle, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, Volume 13, Issue 4, 2009, Pages 350-361,ISSN 1360-8592,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2009.07.006. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1360859209000904
Hungerford, B. Treatment of the pelvis and lumbar spine. Advanced Manual Therapy Associates, 2017.