What is Neutral Spine Alignment and Why Is It So Important?

What is Neutral Spine Alignment?

Neutral Spine Alignment 1

Neutral Spine Alignment is when your pelvis, rib cage and skull are in alignment with each other.  When in neutral spine alignment your spine restores the natural loaded through your vertebrae which is through the huge vertebral bodies which are designed for support.  Postures outside of neutral spine alignment load the facet joints which are not designed to be loaded, only to guide movement.

Neutral spine alignment is not pulling your shoulder blades back or contracting your abdominals.  It consists of specific alignment positions of the pelvis, rib cage and pelvis
Most musculoskeletal conditions that result in pain are the result of the body working inefficiently due to faulty posture and the biomechanical overload that results.  SymFit® restores your neutral spine alignment and conditions you to move correctly (i.e. from a neutral spine position).  Once neutral spine has been established, fitness and physical wellness will be the result.  The perpetual cycle of faulty loading, soft tissue and joint mechanical overload are replaced with dynamic stability and pain-free movement; all activities from this point forward contribute positively to physical wellness.  Once you have demonstrated the ability to lift, push, pull and carry without loading your neck and back we begin conditioning your cardiovascular and respiratory health to prepare for fitness level conditioning.

How to Get Into Neutral Spine Alignment:

Neutral Spine Alignment 2

1. The thoracic spine, when stacked unloads the lumbar spine (low back) from the weight of the upper body.  It also creates an stable foundation for the neck to support the head.
2. From a “stacked upper back” posture you can adjust the position of your skull (“head nod”) to unload the neck.
3. From a “stacked upper back” your lower abdominals roll your pelvis posteriorly, this suspends the pelvis anteriorly to unload the lower lumbar spine (L3-L5).
4. From a “stacked upper back” your upper abdominals stabilize your rib cage inline with your pelvis to unload the upper lumbar spine (T12-L3)
Your obliques stabilize your rib cage and pelvis in the rotational plane.



Why Is Neutral Spine Alignement So Important?

Neutral Spine Alignment 3
Technological advancements have us in collapsed postures most of the day.  This results in excessive loading of 4 of the 24 vertebrae and through these 4 vertebra’s facet joints.  We try and be healthy and workout after work but we do it from collapsed postures, so our fitness programs start strengthening our ability to move from collapsed postures.

Benefits of Healthy Posture:

Improved blood flow to the brain
Improved lunge expansion
Improved balance; reduced fall risk
Improved energy
Improved endurance
Improved confidence

Consequences of Collapsed Posture:

The 4  vertebrae overloaded as a result of collapsed posture will eventually come out of alignment and this starts a downward spiral of breakdown at these segments (bulging/herniated discs) and eventually asymmetrical loading of the extremities.

Forward Head Posture:

C1 – forward head posture can result in headaches and head tilt which can cause TMJ problems
C6/7 – is the most commonly herniated disc.  Its mis-alignment can cause shoulder problems as well as radicular symptoms (nerve pain) down the arm.

Thoracic Kyphosis:

Increased risk for compression fractures, rib displacements and compromised lung function.

Excessive Lumbar Lordosis (Collapsed Pelvis):

T12 – a collapsed upper back results in rib flaring during lifting which places all the weight of the upper body at this segment.
L5/S1 – this is the most commonly herniated disc occurs at L5.  Its mis-alignment can cause mechanical low back pain, radiculapthy down the leg, sciatic and mechanical breakdown of the hip, knee and ankle as a result of asymmetrical loading.

Medical Conditions Associated With Collapsed Posture

Herniated Disc Arthritis (Spondylosis)
Herniated Disc Arthritis (Spondylosis)

Source: SYMFIT Physical Therapy & Fitness http://symfitptandfitness.com/neutral-spine-alignment