Neutral Spine vs. Imprinted Spine for Core Exercises

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‘Tuck your hips and push your lower back securely into the floor.’ This as soon as typical cue seems familiar to any individual who took dance or exercise courses throughout the 1970s. As physical fitness research developed, physiotherapists questioned the wisdom of annihilating the natural curves of the spine. The debate over the effectiveness of the neutral vs. the imprinted spine position during core workout stays controversial amongst fitness professionals.

Three Spinal Curves

Your spine has three natural curves. Your neck or cervical spinal column curves inward. Your middle or thoracic location curves external and your lumbar or lower back location curves inward. The stability of your structural architecture depends upon the proper balance amongst those three curves. When balanced, your spinal curves act as shock absorbers, which secure your spinal discs from injury. Minor changes in the spinal curves produce a contagion effect, which whacks your whole spinal column from alignment, and impairs your motion mechanics throughout core workout.

Spinal Stability

Your deep core muscles, such as the transversus abdominus, the internal obliques, the multifidus and the pelvic floor, support your spinal column in the neutral position, states British track and field coach Brian Mackenzie. On the other hand, your superficial abdominal muscle, called the rectus abdominus, supports spine flexion, which is the movement used during the stomach curl. While imprinting your lower back into the floor could engage your rectus abdominus, doing this might eliminate the demand for core muscle co-contraction, which is essential when your spine is in the neutral position.


Excessive curvature of the lower back since of injury or genetic make-up might make it impossible to accomplish a neutral spinal alignment. Well balanced Body Pilates instructor-trainer Portia Page, author of ‘Pilates Illustrated,’ suggests that students position a rolled up towel under their arched lower back. She calls this the supported neutral spine position. Remarkably weak core muscles may make it challenging to support the spinal column, states Moira Stott, creator of the Stott Pilates method, a strong proponent of the neutral spinal column position. Stott makes an exception to the rule in this situation. She urges teachers to have these students work in the imprinted position, up until they obtain the core strength required for carrying out core exercises with a neutral spinal column.

Bottom LIne

While most trainers prefer the neutral spinal column for core workout, numerous admit to making use of a case-by-case scenario. Some use the neutral spinal column position when their students lie supine, with a minimum of one foot on the floor, however switch to an imprinted position when both legs are in the air. If your core muscles are too weak to support your spinal column in the neutral position, practice core muscle isolation exercises. Take a breath in, then breathe out and draw your belly button towards your spinal column. Breathe typically and hold the tightening for 10 seconds. Do this standard workout 10 times a day.