By Lisa Corsello at Burn SF I love this topic and thought I’d blog about it this week for those of you who may be wondering. . .so if you want to experience more from core and spring work and less lower back pain (and who doesn’t?!). . . . . . read on:

Neutral Spine is the form that we at Burn believe is healthiest.  I like to think of Neutral Spine as protecting the integrity of your spinal health, as well as respecting and maintaining the way the spine is naturally structured.

Basically, a healthy spine has 3 natural points at which it curves:neutral_spine_burn_pilates (1)

  1. the neck (cervical)
  2. the mid-back (thoracic)
  3. the lower back (lumbar)

I’ve found that the easiest way to find neutral spine is during a wall squat, because the wall provides us with something to move away from or against.  if you can do a wall squat and check your form in a mirror, you’ll get bonus points .

Here’s how to find neutral spine:

  1. Stand against a wall and bring your feet at least 2 feet away from the wall.
  2. Slide down the wall and stop at about 90 degrees (pretend you’re sitting in a chair)
  3. Begin by tucking and arching your back.  Notice what happens to your shoulders and tailbone when you tuck your spine, and notice what happens to your neck and your chest when you arch. Ideally you should be able to keep the base of your skull on the wall, while focusing on sliding your jaw back towards the wall (maintaining a 'double chin' position for your head).
  4. After experimenting with a few tucks and arches with your lower back and pelvis, try to find a position between the two that feels like you are in the middle of both extremes, making sure to direct your gaze directly across from you. Ideally you should be able to place your fingers between your back and the wall at the level of your belly button. This will give you the ideal curvature.
  5. Inhale all the way into your lower belly and then exhale while gently drawing your belly in while maintaining this neutral spine (without tucking).  This may take a bit of time and practice.  You may find that it’s challenging to get your shoulders against the wall, or that when you exhale, you automatically tuck.  Keep practicing and try not to judge yourself.  Be sure to stretch your chest and hamstrings, as they can sometimes be the cause of the tightness that prevents neutral spine.

For more info in greater detail, check out this cool PDF I found online.