The A - Z of Pilates - N is for Neutral Spine

In Pilates the term Neutral Spine is something that is taught very early on as part of finding your overall body alignment. This is because you need to understand how to find your Neutral Spine to be able to set up your posture properly before performing Pilates exercises, as well as maintain it when performing certain exercises.


Neutral spine is all about the position of the three natural spinal curves that are the neck, mid-back and the lower back areas of the spine. If you were to lie on the floor you would feel these natural curves, as the back of your neck (your cervical spine) and your lower back (your lumbar spine) would not touch the floor underneath. When these curves in your spine are naturally aligned, your spine is in its optimum and strongest position as it is best able to absorb shock when you are moving around during everyday activities. Even when you sit down it is important to try and keep these natural curves in place to prevent lower back pain, or strain and tension developing in your neck and upper back.



Here’s how you can feel Neutral Spine:
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Lengthen your arms down by the side of your body with your palms facing down.
  • Allow your spine to lengthen and ensure that your shoulders are relaxed.
  • Place your hands on lower abdomen with your thumbs just below your navel. Imagine you have a bowl of water placed between your hands.
  • Tilt your pelvis forward so that your tailbone tilts towards the ceiling. You will feel the curve of your lower back press into the mat and, if you did have a bowl of water there you would find that the water would spill over.
  • Tilt your pelvis backwards to make an arch in your back that is more pronounced than your natural curve of the spine. Again, if you had a bowl of water there, it would spill over the opposite edge of the bowl.
  • Continue with this action a few times, gradually diminishing the range of movement each time until your pelvis is still and the water in your imaginary bowl becomes still and level. This is your Neutral Spine position.



You can practice finding your Neutral Spine anywhere, whether you are sitting, standing, lying of kneeling on all fours! To find out how it fits with your overall body alignment and posture take a look at my Pilates A-Z – A is for Alignment.


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This entry was posted on April 3, 2018