Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fitness Tip - Neutral Spine

Thanks to my friend, baseball and travel writer Dan Schlossberg, I’ve changed the name of my blog. The original name was too much of a mouthful and Dan came up with several suggestions keeping in mind my fairly new venture into writing and my fitness career. I haven’t worn leotards in probably fifteen years, though. When I began teaching fitness classes everyone was wearing leotards, tights and leg warmers. Remember those? Jane Fonda time. Then I removed the leg warmers. After another ten years or so I added a t-shirt over the leotard, then went to tights and long t-shirts, and finally sweat pants and tees. Thirty years, even in fitness, changes a body, and we must keep up with the proper, age-appropriate attire otherwise it just doesn’t look good.

I’ve promised fitness tips in this blog, so here’s my first.  Hold your belly in! That’s my mantra. To make it easier, I’ll teach you how to find your neutral spine and that will help you hold it in. Your abs support your spine, so they need to be strong (I’ll give you some abdominal strength training tips another time). Just remember, stronger abs, better backs, and less aches and pains. I won’t promise you’ll never have back pain, but I will say standing and sitting in neutral will help you have less problems. And if and when you have low back pain, you’ll be able to overcome it more easily and quickly. So, let’s find your neutral spine.

1.  Stand with your feet comfortably apart.
2.  Pelvic tilt. It’s kind of like tucking your tail between your legs. You can do it! Your  
     lower back should feel flattened. Okay – that’s not a good posture.
3. Now pelvic tilt the opposite way – push your belly forward, stick your tail-bone out.
    You’ll have a big arch in your back – a sway back. Now that’s not a good posture
    either, but we’re almost there.
 4. Repeat 2 and 3 to feel the difference between the flat back and the arch. Do it again,
     but go easy, until you recognize the difference between the two postures.
 5. Now, find the space in-between the flattened back and the arched back. That’s neutral!

Everyone’s neutral spine is different just as everyone’s spine is different. But we all find it the same way. You should feel comfortable in neutral, stand taller and look more confident.

Repeat 1-5 in a seated position to get the feel of sitting in neutral spine. It will help prevent stress on your lower back and shoulders and, again, you’ll look much better, more awake, more confident.

No slouching! Neutral is the way.

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