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Move of the Month: Finding Neutral Spine

Authored by: Total Health Team

Exercises done in the "neutral spine position" can help decrease back pain. Learn these fundamental exercises to promote core stability, as well as to stretch and strengthen the back.

Starting Position: Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart.
Place your palms on your hip bones and your fingertips pointed toward your pubic bone.

Goal: Focus on the muscles that create the position. This natural spinal position is often referred to as the "neutral spine.” It is achieved by having your hip bones and your pubic bone in the same plane. The correct position will create a small arch in your lower back.

Exercise 1: Inhale through your nose and focus on breathing wide into your ribcage to prepare for the exercise. Exhale through your mouth and begin to flatten your lower back onto the mat by activating your lower abdominal muscles. This position is called a posterior pelvic tilt. Inhale and return to the starting position. Practice achieving this position 3 times.

Exercise 2: Inhale through your nose and focus on breathing wide into your ribcage to prepare for this exercise. Exhale through your mouth and begin to arch your lower back off the mat by activating your low back muscles. This position is called an anterior pelvic tilt. Inhale and return to the starting position. Practice achieving this position 3 times.

Exercise 3: Find the position between the anterior pelvic tilt and the posterior pelvic tilt. This is considered the neutral spine position. Inhale through your nose and focus on breathing wide into your ribcage to prepare for this exercise. Exhale through your mouth and without allowing your back to move, then activate your abdominal muscles that run horizontally across your lower abdomen. You should feel a sense of tension in your lower abdominal muscles as you pull your abdomen in toward your spine. Repeat the breathing and contraction sequence for 2 minutes and try to work yourself up to 5 minutes.

Note: You should not feel your abdomen rise up toward the ceiling.

Remember that no exercise should ever hurt when you do it. If you feel any pain at all, discontinue the exercise and consult with your physical therapist.

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