How to Achieve a Neutral Spine

How to Achieve a Neutral Spine

In many different compound lifts, Pilates, or other exercises, a neutral spine is a must-have for performing movements safely and effectively.

It’s because when your spine is in neutral alignment, your body is at its most stable. Stability means your muscles can work at their best and you minimise the risk of injury, so learning how to keep your spine neutral is an important part of working out and getting the most from your time in the gym.

What is a ‘neutral spine’?

Neutral, or natural, spine position is when the different curves of your spine (the neck, middle, and lower back) are in alignment.

In practice, that means that the spine isn’t overly arched or isn’t too flat – the spine naturally curves from base to tip.

You can see below how your spine in its natural pose does curve – this is why it’s important not to overcorrect your posture and flatten the spine, as it’s just as bad as rounding.

How to check if your spine is neutral

A simple way of checking your spine alignment is with a long stick, like a bamboo plant pole. The pole should be long enough to reach from your tailbone to the back of your head.

How to check your spinal alignment:

  1. Stand up straight, with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  2. Holding the stick, create three points of contact on the stick with your head, your upper back, and your tailbone.

If it’s easier, get someone else to hold the stick against your back so you can focus on creating those three touchpoints. With your spine in a neutral position, you should be able to slip your hand between the pole and your lower back.

Keeping your spine neutral when exercising

Once you’re more familiar with what a neutral spine should look and feel like, you can try maintaining it during exercises that call for it.

Here are some techniques for keeping your spine in alignment when you move:

  • Have a friend or a spotter check your form and tell you if your back is arching or too straight.

  • If you still have your stick, hold it in place maintaining three touchpoints as you hinge at the hip. This should give you a strong idea of how to maintain a neutral spine as your body moves.

  • Record yourself as you exercise (with a lighter weight) and review the footage. Don’t lift heavy things whilst you’re still figuring out how to keep your spine neutral when needed.

Want to learn more?

Lifting weights takes a lot of effort, so you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workout routine. The friendly personal trainers at your local Gym are on hand to discuss technique, create an individualised fitness plan, and help you smash your fitness goals.

Calisthenics Guide
Read more
Elliptical Machine
Read more
Strength Training
Read more
Pilates at Home
Read more
How to do a Dip
Read more
How to do Box Jumps
Read more
How to do a Bear Crawl
Read more
How to do Bent Over Row
Read more
* Offer available at selected sites only. See Terms & Conditions for further details. ** 24 hour access not currently available at all Gyms. Please see individual Gym pages for further details. ⨥Applicable terms, conditions and joining fees may apply. © 2024 The Gym Group.