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CORE BLAST WEEK TWO - Neutral spine???

posted on Wednesday, 15th September 2010 | find under 

I'M so pleased to be back in blogging action and fully up and running thanks to the helpful men with their Virgin Broadband cables!

And as promised, we're back to that core thing. 

I felt I couldn't get much further without tackling the tricky subject of neutral spine.  It's a term banded about a lot.  If you get it then you are ahead of the game and if you don't, you are not alone.  In my opinion, people over-complicate it and over-science it because most of us find neutral spine naturally.

Neutral spine essentially means the natural curves of your spine. Your spine is designed to curve in order to withstand, amongst other things, shock absorption. So if you start exercising with funky posture or trying to artificially straighten your back, you're reducing your in built, injury prevention design. And in order to get all of your lovely muscles firing up properly, it's important to exercise from a neutral position. You wouldn't get very far on a bent bike with the chain hanging off, or on a boat with a rudder that was stuck and it's the same with your spine.

So how do you find it? 

When you're standing, always take a look at your side profile.  So if you were perfoming deadlifts this might mean working at an angle to the mirror (those mirrors aren't there just to check your lovely self out in).  Check out the natural curve of your lower back.  If it's too curved or arched, you'll probably find that your deep abdominal muscles don't work very well and you'll have a little belly under your belly button that you can never get rid of.

Stand tall, imagining that your ribs lift out from your hips and that if it were sunny you'd feel the sun on your chest.  Be broad chested and feel that your hands naturally hang by your sides rather than in front of you.

When you're lying down (for example in a Pilates class) lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.  Start by noticing the natural arch of your back away from the floor, then try and press it down into the floor.  When your lower back is in a neutral curve you'll notice a tiny gap between your back and the floor, enough that a chink of light could shine through.  For some people this feels like half way between relaxed and imprinted, for others it just feels like your back is in a strong position.

Once you're aware of where neutral is and of how your spine works you'll be able to workout dynamically, keeping great form and posture.  It's all very well figuring out where neutral is when your body is still but you want to be able to use your body dynamically. Just thinking about it and being aware of it is half the battle.

And if you are ever unsure then of course ask your Pilates instructor or trainer to take a look and give you guidance.

I hope you find this useful for your training.  As ever please get in touch if you have any questions, I'd love to hear from you.

Next time we'll get on to some of the best floor exercises for training abs and of course your back.



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