Do You Have Tense Shoulders, Neck Or Back Pain? Act Now To Stand Tall And Prevent Severe Postural Problems Developing As You Age. Read These Simple Steps.
The following 3 steps can be undertaken to achieve neutral spine. Before you commence these steps, begin by lying on your back with your knees bent, your feet shoulder width apart and your arms by your side as demonstrated below.
a) Lower Back and Pelvis
Tilt your pelvis forwards and backwards without moving your ribs, so your lower back arches fully and then flattens fully. Then try to maintain a pelvic and lower back position half way between these two extremes (i.e. a slight curve in the lower back). This is neutral spine for the lower back and pelvis.
b) Upper Back and Shoulder Blades
Pull your shoulder blades back and down slightly, whilst maintaining a flat upper back against the floor. This is neutral spine for the upper back and shoulder blades.
Tuck your chin in slightly and ensure your eyes and nose are facing directly upwards. This is neutral spine for the neck.
Position for achieving a neutral spine
The Transversus Abdominis (TA) muscle is the deepest of the abdominal muscles and is one of the main stabilizers of the lower back and pelvis. The orientation of the TA muscle is similar to a corset, whereby it wraps around your lower abdomen and attaches to your lower back. When the TA muscle contracts it acts like a back brace stabilising your spine and supporting your lower back. It is an integral component of core stability and should be activated with all exercise.
Begin lying on your back with a neutral spine as described above
Slowly draw the section of your abdomen situated below your belly button upwards and inwards ‘away from your belt line’ Breathe normally Your rib cage should remain relaxed and should not elevate during this process You should be able to feel the muscle contracting if you press deeply 2cm in from the bony prominence at the front of your pelvis It is important to feel a mild increase in the tension of the muscles below your fingers, however it should not be so great that your point of contact is getting pushed away from your spine, otherwise your superficial abdominals are being activated rather than the deep stabilising muscle Hold this muscle at 20 – 30% of a maximal contraction for between 30sec to 2min.
Transversus Abdominis (TA) activation
Once you have mastered the neutral spine position and activation of your TA, it is time to move along to the strengthening phase of abdominal work.
The abdominal brace is quite simple and can be done anywhere. You need to achieve neutral spine, activate your TA to 30% of maximum contraction (you should still be able to breathe and talk) and then finally contract all of your core muscles to 30%. Think of the final step like preparing for someone to punch you in the stomach.
I find that this technique is most effective if performed 4-6 times daily. A good mental cue to perform the exercise is to complete a 30 second hold every time your car is stopped at the lights. Within a few weeks you should begin to feel more stable through your core and better able to perform challenging movements – not to mention an improved posture.
The above information is an overview of the workshop held by Dr Patrick Pugliese in Faulkner Park on 10 March 2014. For clarification or further information please contact Dr Pugliese at Belmont Chiropractic on 9478 1777.