2/21/07

Neutral Spine

Is this concept another concept that has taken on a life of it own totally out of context? This seems to be the current buzz with gyms passing out t-shirts that read: Is your spine neutral today? Let’s take a step back and look this in the context of the three movement constants the body, gravity and the ground. In the body are we once again taking a sub cortical action, the neutral spine position, and making conscious? ( I doubt this tennis player has time to think about a neutral spine) If we are then ultimately it will not be beneficial because in movement we must react, not think. Regarding gravity, we are told to learn the “neutral spine” position we must start in a supine position so we can feel the proper alignment of the pelvis to achieve this elusive position. When we are in a supine position we are taking gravity out of the equation? In regard to the ground we are bipedal terrestrial beings who move over the ground off one foot onto the other foot. Can we maintain a “neutral spine” during gait without stiff robotic actions? Once again I feel like a voice crying out in the dark. I do want to be contrary, but to urge people to use good common sense. The “neutral spine” is not a position, it is a moment in time, part of a bigger picture.

9 Comments:

At 2/21/07, 1:25 PM, Anonymous Jeff Hart said...

What is important with neutral spine is kinesthetically can one feel it. Once there you have to get them erect and evaluate whether they can safely pass through neutral spine in three planes of motion.

 
At 2/21/07, 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once there you have to get them erect and evaluate whether they can safely pass through neutral spine in three planes of motion.


Why?

 
At 2/22/07, 2:00 PM, Anonymous tlanger said...

"Why?"

If a person can't safely maintain NS in a particular plane of motion, it tells you where they need help...

TL

 
At 2/22/07, 2:55 PM, Anonymous S. Sall said...

What really is neutral? And what is the gold standard to determine if one is or is not maintaining a neutral spine? As Mr. Gambetta stated, "The “neutral spine” is not a position..." The spine is not static. Thankfully! The spine is very dynamic and designed to move with every ground reaction force sent up the chain and every head/shoulder/arm/hand driver sent down the chain. Perhaps rather than equating neutral with a position in space relative to all three planes of motion, we should evaluate or teach neutral spine as 1. a "zone" in space (relative to all three planes of motion, And 2. the position in which the spine can effectively distribute ground reaction, gravity and intrinsic forces to the abdominals, pelvis and extremities most effectively to produce the desired functional result. Any thoughts?

 
At 2/22/07, 5:17 PM, Anonymous tlanger said...

The term neutral wasn’t originally meant to suggest a static posture, but rather a safe of ROM. It’s become rather pedantic with so many people taking a literal approach and saying, “there is no neutral spine.” Actually there IS a neutral spinal, but it’s relative to a specific postural configuration and fleeting moment in time, it’s transitory.

IMO people are struggling with the concept, because they don’t recognize the difference between the needs of a rehab patient, regular Joe, and/or an athlete. For example, the training approach for a person with a flexion provoked lower back is done while maintaining a more rigid lumbar posture and an athlete will progressively increase lumbar spine ROM to a level right beneath tissue overload.

It’s all very relative to a person’s needs, but the nomenclature is very vocation specific or in other words fitness trainers, ATC, DC’s, PT’s and MD’s all use different lingo!

Todd Langer
www.balance2posture.com

 
At 2/22/07, 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, the technique was founded in a vocation and does not have a universal understand?

 
At 2/22/07, 10:38 PM, Anonymous s. sall said...

Mr. Langer,

Thank you for your reply. I certainly appreciate your insights on this issue. (By the way, "Pendantic" - that's a great word, had to look that one up).

I think your comments on the fact that indiduals "don’t recognize the difference between the needs of a rehab patient, regular Joe, and/or an athlete" AND "It’s all very relative to a person’s needs..." are right on the mark.

Help me, if you would, understand your other comments..."If a person can't safely maintain NS in a particular plane of motion, it tells you where they need help..."

AND

"Actually there IS a neutral spinal, but it’s relative to a specific postural configuration and fleeting moment in time, it’s transitory."

Where I'm not following you is, if NS is transitory (which I agree from your 2nd post), happening during a fleeting moment in time, then how long is that timeframe for one to conclude that they are unable to "maintain" (from your 1st post)the neutral spine position? Apologies if I'm being obtuse.

Thanks for sharing your insights.

 
At 2/23/07, 1:09 AM, Anonymous tlanger said...

We’re all just squirrels looking for a nut! :) Seriously, for better or worse, I’m always glad to share my thoughts….

--If a person learns how to maintain their lumbar spine, next they have to be challenged. So you might see a particular direction where they aren’t as stabile or they might have a back pain flare-up the next day and this tells you something is amiss.

--You aren’t being obtuse and I’m probably just not being clear. Basically, a moment in time can be a nanosecond or 2 minutes. For example, if you watch someone standing in line and see how they hold their posture it’s easy to pick. The trickier scenario would be dealing with high level athletics and you have experienced eyes like Vern’s and videotape that slows it down frame by frame.

The whole topic becomes even muddier when considering tendon and ligament attachment sites differ and thus, each person line of gravity will be somewhat unique and thus, so will their range of neutral! I always fall back on improving the continuum of balance to optimize ground reactive forces and postural habits to align the body in gravity; essentially, allowing the natural reflex system do its thing…

Am I making any sense?

Todd Langer
www.balance2posture.com

 
At 2/23/07, 7:26 AM, Anonymous s. sall said...

Well said. You are making sense. I appreciate your willingness to share your insights. I look forward to future "chats" with you. Thanks again to Vern for all his efforts and setting the bar for passion, ingenuity and leadership.

 

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