Neutral Spine Exercises

By Shane YoungNovember 16, 2018



How are you doing today? Are you feeling a bit stiff? That might be related to a not mobile spine.  Below I will explain some neutral spine exercises. 


Maybe you’ve heard during our sessions one of our trainers saying: “Keep a neutral spine during this exercise.” But what does that actually mean? When we talk about a natural spine, we talk about different elements/disks in the right position.

Neutral Spine Exercises: Lumbar Spine

Where most people struggle to keep their spine in the right position is the lower/lumbar spine. They’re just overarching their back because their lower abdominals are too weak to hold their spine in the right position. That can cause back pain and that’s why we here are Ascend not just focus on strengthening your core muscles in general, but also reminding you to tuck your pelvis slightly under to stabilize your spine. That means don’t tuck your pelvis to the extreme but never arch too much. A slight curve in your lumbar spine is absolutely normal and wished. One great reminder I learned about a neutral spine is a water bucket method: You don’t want to let the water drop to the front (overarching), but you also don’t want to dip it to the back (tucking your pelvis too much). Maybe that will help you to get an idea what a neutral spine means. Most of the time we have to put ourselves actively into this position to train our brain over the time to hold our pelvis neutral. On the other hand, we have to try to avoid to sit as much as possible and stretch the hip flexors out and strengthen our glut muscles on the other side too (yes, there’s a good reason why we always tell you to focus on your butt while you’re working out ;))


Thoracic Spine

Another area we definitely have to talk about is your thoracic spine, which is the area around your chest (thorax). Most people out there are moving around with a super stiff thoracic spine without even realizing it. As a result, our shoulders are bolted and we’re rounding in our spine while our chest and shoulders getting tighter and tighter. Here we need exercises who put you back in the neutral upright position. These are in first place exercises who strengthen your back muscles. In General, you can remind yourself: Where something is to tight, on the other side there’s something to loose and needs to be stronger. TRX Pulls, Pull-Ups, Deadlift and Dumbbell Rows are great exercises to help you with that.  My colleague, Darren, is a great TRX trainer. Stretching the tight muscles can also help, but if you asked me from my personal experience (I’m one of these guys with my shoulders in the wrong position and working against it) I would recommend start moving your spine more: Move in all directions, twist and stretch it. One of the greatest exercises I ever learned for spinal mobilization is the Jefferson Curl. When you have been with me in class you have probably see me demo it.


Here’s a quick introduction video for a Jefferson Curl from our Coach Bryce:



Generally speaking, remind yourself about standing up, pull your shoulders back and move around. As long as you keep your spine in a neutral position and keep the right balance between strong and weak muscles you’ll be fine. But I want to warn and encourage you here too: That might take months or even years, depending on where you start, to get your spine back to the position to where it is, but it will be life changing and well worth it.  There are many other exercises for back pain.  The above are just a few that I love to do.  Let’s work on our spine together, we’re all together on the same road! Deal? 😉


All the best,



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