As a Pilates and Yoga teacher, the alignment and use of the spine is central to my teaching. Also a personal trainer the use of the spine is important in helping clients work the correct muscles and avoid injury. Neutral Spine is the alignment of choice for a healthy spine.
A quick definition of neutral spine would be –
“Maintenance of the 4 natural curves in the vertebral column”.
When correctly aligned, the spine can be safely loaded and pain free movement facilitated.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Your spine should have two areas that do not touch the mat underneath you: your neck and your lower back.
To check slip one hand under the lower/lumber spine – you should just be able to get your fingers under! Then place both hands on the pubic abdomen – this should be flat! Another way to check standing up is to align the – earlobe > shoulder joint > greater trochanter (hip) and outer ankle bone.
Congratulations you have found neutral. This means that the shock of standing, walking, running and jumping can be safely absorbed by your spine. The say that when you are in neutral lying on your back, you should be able to balance a cup and saucer safely on the lower belly.
However please remember the spine is meant to flex, extend, rotate and move laterally – don’t feel you have to become a robot. However neutral is the safely position for the spine when it is loaded (ie weight placed through it), such as when lifting a heavy weight (this includes your own body) or when engaging in a high impact activity (eg running).