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Understanding 'Neutral Spine'

A key principle not only in Pilates but also daily life.



In Pilates classes, you'll often hear the term 'neutral spine'. But what does it mean? And why is it so important not only in your Pilates practice but also in your daily life? Let's delve into the concept of neutral spine and its benefits.


What is a Neutral Spine?


A neutral spine refers to the natural alignment of the spine when all three curves of the spine — cervical (neck), thoracic (middle back), and lumbar (lower back) — are aligned and in their natural position. When viewed from the side, a neutral spine takes on an 'S' shape.


The cervical and lumbar regions have a slight inward curve known as lordosis, while the thoracic region has a gentle outward curve, known as kyphosis. These curves help the spine withstand great amounts of stress by providing a more even distribution of body weight.


To put it simply, think about keeping your head over ribs, ribs over hips and hips over the mid-foot to achieve your neutral spine. Maybe even check out your standing posture side-on in a mirror. You can also find neutral by lying on the floor with a heavy head, heavy ribcage, heavy tailbone coupled with a lightness under your neck and lower back.


Why Work in Neutral Spine During Pilates?


Working in a neutral spine during Pilates helps to maintain these natural curves and promotes better posture and alignment. It ensures that we're working with our body's natural design rather than against it, reducing the risk of injury and strain.


In Pilates, we focus on strengthening the core muscles, which include the muscles surrounding the spine. By maintaining a neutral spine, we ensure these muscles are effectively engaged and strengthened, enhancing stability and balance when you step off the mat. Also, working in a neutral spine allows for optimal breathing, as it leaves the chest area open and unrestricted.


Neutral Spine in Daily Life


But the benefits of a neutral spine aren't confined to classes. Maintaining a neutral spine in daily life can greatly improve your overall health and well-being.


When we deviate from this neutral alignment — such as when we slouch over our desks, reading, knitting, cycling or carry heavy bags on one shoulder — we put undue stress on our spine and muscles, leading to discomfort, pain, and even long-term damage over time.


By being mindful of maintaining a neutral spine throughout the day (head over ribs, ribs over hips and hips over the mid-foot), we can alleviate these issues. It helps us move more efficiently, preventing fatigue and promoting greater energy levels. Whether you're sitting in a chair, standing in line, or doing household chores, aim to maintain that gentle 'S' curve in your spine.


Remember, a neutral spine is not about rigidity. It's about maintaining your body's natural alignment, allowing for fluidity and flexibility in movement. So, next time you step onto the mat for a Pilates session or simply go about your day, remember the importance of a neutral spine. Your body will thank you for it!



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Bridge House Pilates

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Meaghan Feldwick

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