Find Your Neutral Spine

Learn to find your neutral spine and build muscle memory to achieve a comfortable and healthy daily posture.

| August 2018

  • incorrect and correct posture
    Everyone’s neutral spine is a bit different depending on the anatomical condition of their lumbar spine. For most people, there will be a gentle curve in the lower back.
    Photo by Getty/bestsale
  • posterior pelvic tile illustration
    Finding your neutral spine can be a bit tricky for some but you can do it. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Flatten your lower back into the floor and curl your tailbone upward. This is a “posterior pelvic tilt.
    Photo by Andrea Charest and Katrina Metcalf
  • anterior pelvic tilt illustration
    Arch your back so that your lower back comes off of the floor, and point your tailbone toward the ground (an “anterior pelvic tilt”).
    Photo by Andrea Charest and Katrina Metcalf
  • neutral spine illustration
    Go back and forth between those two motions a few times. Find the position of your lower back between these two extremes (flattening your back or arching it) that feels the most comfortable to you, and stop there. This is your neutral spine.
    Photo by Andrea Charest and Katrina Metcalf
  • book cover
    “The Younger Next Year Back Book” by Chris Crowley and Jeremy James is a guide to a whole body approach to eliminating back pain forever.
    Cover courtesy Workman Publishing

  • incorrect and correct posture
  • posterior pelvic tile illustration
  • anterior pelvic tilt illustration
  • neutral spine illustration
  • book cover

The Younger Next Year Back Book (Workman Publishing, 2018) is a whole body approach guide to eliminating back pain forever. Learning or relearning the proper ways to move using the seven cardinal rules, step-by-step instructions and illustrated exercises, leads to a healthier neutral spine and a pain-free life.

Finding your neutral spine can be a bit tricky for some but you can do it. Here’s what you do. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Try to relax everything in your body, and just breathe. Then let’s start by performing a pelvic tilt.

To do that, flatten your lower back into the floor (first image), and curl your tailbone upward. This is a “posterior pelvic tilt,” if you want to put a name to it. Now, arch your back so that your lower back comes off of the floor (second image), and point your tailbone toward the ground (an “anterior pelvic tilt”). Now, slowly go back and forth between those two motions a few times (third image). Find the position of your lower back between these two extremes (flattening your back or arching it) that feels the most comfortable to you, and stop there. This is your neutral spine. It may take a few tries but it’s not hard.

Stop here for a second. You have just reached an important point, and you don’t want to “lose” it. Everyone’s neutral spine is a bit different depending on the anatomical condition of their lumbar spine. For most people, there will be a gentle curve in the lower back. For those who already have some kind of a disc bulge, their neutral spine might be more arched (butt more extended). For those with spinal stenosis, their neutral spine may be a little more flattened than the one in the picture on the previous page. Don’t worry about it. Whatever feels the most comfortable for you is your neutral spine for now. In time, your neutral spine will likely become more like the “normal” picture as pain and inflammation subside.



Think about your neutral spine and assume that position all the time until it becomes second nature — until “muscle memory” takes over.


Excerpted from The Younger Next Year Back Book: The Whole-Body Plan to Conquer Back Pain Forever Copyright © 2018 by Chris Crowley and Jeremy James and published by Workman Publishing, also available at workman.com. Illustrations © 2018 by Andrea Charest and Karina Metcalf.


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