Introducing the neutral spine

Throughout this book I remind you to find or maintain neutral spine. You may be wondering what the heck that means but just remember you have a natural curve in your back when you relax. So I'm making sure that you don't exaggerate or minimize the way your spine is naturally shaped.

Your spine has four natural curves:

1. The cervical (the curve in your neck)

2. The thoracic (the slightly rounded shape in your upper back)

3. The lumbar (the sway of your lower back)

4. The sacrum (the tilt of your pelvic region)

In flexibility training, neutral spine has three positions: lying on your back, sitting, and standing. Start each stretch in neutral spine because incorrect spinal position not only diminishes the effectiveness of the stretch but also promotes muscular imbalance and bad posture. Every time you start in correct alignment you retrain your muscles to properly support your spine.

Although exercising is excellent therapy for your spine, many people make simple but crucial mistakes in the position of their spine while exercising. These mistakes can place a great deal of stress on the spine. Some of the most common are

1 Decreasing the curve in the lower back by "tucking" the pelvis under 1 Excessively arching the back by tilting the pelvis backward

1 Exaggerating the thoracic curve by rounding the shoulders forward and tightening the shoulder muscles

1 Lifting and opening the rib cage while reaching overhead

1 Forgetting that the neck is actually part of your spine

1 Letting the chin drop down or the head jut forward

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