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The Basics of Pilates—Neutral Spine

One of the key principles for a successful Pilates practice is neutral spine. When we do our Pilates workouts, whether on the reformer or in a mat session, we strive to build strength, flexibility and endurance in our core, legs, arms and back. It’s a deep, comprehensive body workout that targets our most vital, and unfortunately, most neglected muscle groups, making it ideal for injury prevention and rehabilitation.

The muscles we target in Pilates classes are what helps us keep our bodies in neutral alignment, which is when they function best. Our pelvic area absorbs more shock than any other area of our bodies in everyday activities. It is a delicate region yet where we carry most of our weight. This is why people often incur serious injuries from having bad posture while sitting or driving, picking heavy items up with improper form, carrying bags and purses on one shoulder and the repetitive motions of any sports that strain the shoulder girdle on one side in particular, such as golf and tennis. When we do suffer from those type of injuries, this can result in long periods of suffering and rehabilitation—ask anyone who’s had a back injury and they will tell you that their recovery was long and challenging.

A neutral spine helps to avoid pain and injury from our daily activities and strengthens the core. When we’re doing reformer Pilates workouts or taking mat Pilates classes, we aim for neutral alignment, which is why we tell students to always lengthen through the spine and use the deep ab muscles to protect the core. You should aim for neutral spine during any form of exercise, as well as day to day activities and even when you’re just lounging around. Think about it every day—lengthen through the spine, make sure you are standing upright, and engage your deep abs.


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