Neutral spine posture is a key piece of the puzzle when working to rehabilitate pelvic floor dysfunction. It is one of the three key components of a successful rehabilitation program and probably the hardest to comply with. Why is it so hard to follow through on neutral spine posture? For those of you who work hard to find and hold optimal posture throughout your day, you are well aware that neutral spine posture is a dynamic position. It is a position of free movement and balance between full extension and flexion of all of our joints. It requires muscular control versus the locking of joints or the tension of ligaments or tendons. This begins at our knees where we don’t want our femoral condyles locked in full extension on our tibial plateau, but rather just out of full extension in a position of free movement. This dynamic position requires coordinated firing of our quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, to provide stability to our knee joints. This position is not as easy as locking our knees, but it is so much better for the health of our knee joints as well as our posture up the chain.
Next, we can look at our pelvis. It is easiest to either allow our pelvis and lumbar spine to lock back in full extension (anterior pelvic tilt) or to rock forward, resting on the tension of our hip flexors and ligaments (posterior pelvic tilt). Either of these two positions will set us up for injury through excessive compression of our lumbar vertebrae or pelvic/hip dysfunction. Rather than locking joints, positioning of the pelvis just out of the fully extended position allows free movement of the multiple joints of our pelvis, hips, and spine. Finding your neutral spine is key to maximizing blood flow and muscular control, setting the base for your thoracic and cervical spinal building blocks. This position of free movement of your pelvis and lumbar spine is not easy. Just like our knees, it requires a coordinated effort of muscles on the front and back side to hold this dynamic position. It is the co-contraction of our multifidi muscles, our transversus abdominus, and our pelvic floor muscles that help to stabilize our lumbo-pelvic girdle, setting the base upon which the rest of our spine is stacked.
Much like everything in life – if it seems too easy, it’s probably not right. Posture certainly follows this rule. It takes an awareness of your body and consistent reminders to hold neutral spine posture. You can refer to http://www.youtube.com/user/PTPartners#p/u to see and hear the cues that will help you find your own neutral spine. Let your posture be a focus by keeping your muscles “on,” and your body in a position of free movement. It’s not easy but the benefits are worth it!