Neutral spine

The Pilates Institute research based technique follows a strict neutral pelvic alignment together with a mild contraction of the deep abdominals also called ‘the core’.

 In 1999 Carolyn Richardson, Paul Hodges, Julie Hides and Gwendolene Jull published their research findings in relation to low back pain (updated in 2003). They focussed their attention on the deep muscles that their research and clinical studies suggested controlled the lumbar segment of the spine: the multifidus, transverses abdominis, diaphragm and pelvic floor.

The research suggests that many problems with the back result from a combination of poor posture and body mechanics which create abnormal stress on the spine.

The basis of effective back care begins with good posture. Poor posture can cause spinal pain as well as exacerbate existing pain, it can also delay rehabilitation. There are three natural curves in a healthy spine: inward curve in the neck, outward curve in the mid back, inward curve in the low back.

The muscles that hold the spine in correct alignment are found deep in the body close to the spine and are referred to as stabilisers naturally, because that is their function, to help stabilise the spine in readiness for activity.

Most exercise regimes and especially Pilates based exercise programmes encourage working with the spine in a neutral position.

It is obvious that once the spine is placed in a neutral position it needs to be kept there and it is the postural muscles that achieve this. By learning how to utilise the core muscles to initiate movement whilst in a neutral pelvic alignment will not only reduce your risk of injury and low back pain but go a long way towards improving your general posture.

These deep abdominals respond most effectively to a gentle contraction and together with a neutral pelvic alignment and a lateral thoracic (wide and full) breathe create the correct intra-abdominal pressure to assist with spinal stability. (Richardson et al 1996, Queensland University).

Consider your lifestyle, how many times during the day do you compromise your spine when lifting, bending, or sitting at your computer.

If you can master maintaining a neutral spine, retaining the three natural curves of the spine as you move from one position to the next you will be closer to protecting your spine from unnecessary stress and strain.

Learning how to maintain a neutral spinal alignment will help to stabilise the spine during everyday activities such as walking, sitting and lifting, not to mention your Pilates practice.


%d bloggers like this: