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Finding Your Neutral Spine

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Dr Melinda Whitfield

Posture, good health and standing with confidence

As you sit and read this, how are you holding your body? Good posture is seated quietly at the essential table of good health. Good posture is not simply sitting up straight – it is an active relearning of the ‘neutral spine.’ It is the alignment of your physical self. In an ideal posture, the line of gravity should pass through specific points down the midline of the body. Teaching yourself to hold a neutral spine will reduce tension in your body, reduce the frequency of headaches, increase your energy levels and lung capacity, support joint health and bolster a sense of self worth, confidence and pride.

Think of your spine and its structures as a pathway from your brain, down your back and extending outwards to the tips of your fingers and toes. It is the channel through which all messages from your brain to your body flow. In between each vertebrae, soft, shock absorbing discs allow for ease of movement and protection of your joints. At the level of each vertebrae, a nerve root emerges from your spinal cord and extends to innervate (give power and sense) a part of your body. These nerves are labeled numerically and we can tell, by the distribution of your pain, where the nerve root that is agitated emerges from. We call this intelligent surface anatomy map your Dermatomes.

Health With Heart Finding Your Neutral Spine

Imagine as you lengthen upwards, that you are allowing more room for these nerves to emerge, taking the pressure off of the entire system.

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When seated, take a few moments to simply observe your body.

  • Are both your feet on the ground with an equal sense of weight distribution?
  • Is your back straight but gently allowing for the natural curves in your lumbar, thoracic, and cervical area?
  • Do your earlobes align with your collarbones?
  • Are your shoulders rounded or hunching inwards?
  • Is your pelvis out of alignment?
  • Are you mindful of how you are holding yourself?
  • Is your laptop at eye level? If not, go and get three or four books and lift it up. You can get yourself a wireless keyboard to place on your table surface so that your elbows are beside the flanks of your torso when you type.
  • Follow this link to set your desk up correctly with our in house physiotherapist Bridget Alexander and Dr Carla Marais.

This takes work – and that’s ok. Each time you feel yourself slouch today, imagine a golden thread tied to the very center of the top of your head, pulling you up, up, up, towards the sky, towards the highest version of yourself.

Be sure to get up for a few minutes of movement every thirty minutes. When you feel tired, just think of that golden, luminous thread.

Finding your neutral spine will open up your posture, allowing for a reduction in tension and headaches and increased energy levels and lung capacity, better joint health and a bolstered sense of self worth, confidence and pride.

Try this daily exercise to access correct spinal alignment and unlock your body’s potential.

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