We all had a natural curve in our low back as children (this is called lumbar lordosis). This curve acts as a shock absorber for our body when we are moving around. This curve starts to change as we get older. This change depends on our genetics, posture, and movement patterns.
Down Side of Flattening your Back
If you have ever taken an exercise class, you have probably been told to flatten your back. Your instructors are saying this to try to protect your back from injury. This is not bad in itself. However, more often then not, I have seen people overuse the “flat back” position. They start to use this position in every exercise they do as well as their standing position. So why is this bad?
The back is not meant to be in the “flat back” position all the time. We lose the shock absorption of the body and turn off the muscles in the low back. These low back muscles, specifically the multifidi*, are meant to support the spine and are very important to the prevention of back pain. We are not working these muscles (specifically we are turning them off) if we are constantly flattening our back.
*Note: The multifidi are the small stabilizing muscles that run along the length of the spine)
Learn to exercise with your spine in the “neutral” position. The deep abdominals and the low back muscles work efficiently together to support the spine. This does not mean you will never exercise with a slightly flattened back, you should just not be doing it all the time.
Every person had a different body. That means that not every “neutral” spine will look the same. Pay attention to the set-up of your body position. Understand the muscles you should be working. If you are dealing with an injury, please consult your doctor or local physical therapist to find the best approach to exercising your body.
Check out this video to find your neutral spine
Learn some “Neutral Back” Exercises
Learning to find and strengthen your neutral spine is something you can do anywhere. I will show you two exercises to do when you want to strengthen your neutral spine.
Check out part 2 of this article by clicking here