Neutral posture, or neutral spine alignment, means the spine is in its most natural position with minimal bending or twisting. This position limits stress on the parts of the spine and ensures neck and back muscles aren’t being contracted or stretched. By keeping a neutral position when you sit, stand and sleep, you can reduce wear on the spine, which can contribute to chronic neck or back pain.
If you are currently living with spine-related pain, working to improve your posture can have potential benefits as well. Having an erect, neutral posture can help to relieve the pressure being placed on spinal nerves and reduce pain. Learning more about how the spine is constructed and the specific steps you can take to have neutral posture throughout the day can give you the best chance of preventing or relieving back pain.
The Spinal Anatomy
A healthy spine consists of vertebrae that are stacked on one another to give the spine an S-shape and the vertebrae are linked by joints and cushioned by discs. As we age, pressure from weight and movement contributes to natural age-related degeneration, leading to the development of spine conditions like degenerative disc disease and arthritis.
While these factors cannot be completely avoided, practicing neutral posture is a way to limit its effects. By keeping the spine in proper alignment, the pressures being placed on it are evenly distributed, which limits the force being placed on any one area. Here are some specific ways to practice neutral posture:
- Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground
- Shoulders should be kept back with the chest slightly pushed out
- Stomach should be tucked in and your pelvis should not tilt too far forward or backward
- Keep your chin level
- Maintain a slight arch in your lower back
In addition to keeping your spine neutral while standing, you should also have a neutral posture while sitting, walking and sleeping.
Other ways to relieve neck or back pain
Healthy lifestyle choices like managing your weight, avoiding tobacco products, exercising regularly, eating a nutritious diet and practicing good posture are important contributors to spine health. If you are suffering from chronic neck or back pain, combining these choices with a course of doctor-recommended conservative treatments like rest, medication and physical therapy can offer you lasting relief.
If weeks or months of these and other methods have not brought relief and you and your doctor are considering surgical options, contact our spine specialists at Spine & Orthopedic Center today at 888-409-8006.
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