May 31, 2013

Achieving Postural Excellence

Daniel Guzman, BS, CSCS

Posture can be one of two things in your life. Either you understand spinal position and sit/stand with good posture, or you don't. Simple enough. However, most people only think about their posture when someone tells them to sit-up straight or most likely when you read the title of this post.

Neutral Spine Position

Our bodies are created to hold a natural curve in our spine. It is kind of an S shape that starts with your cervical spine, moves to your thoracic, down to your lumbar and ends with your sacrum and coccyx. There are many muscles that help hold your posture correctly (or not).

Most gym jockees have no idea what a neutral spine is let alone holding spine position in a movement. One of the most common mistakes is when people lose their spine position in a Deadlift or Squat. But aren't those lower body lifts? Why would I worry about my upper body? Because if you don't then your back will hate you either immediately or in the near future as your load increases.

Another problem when teaching a neutral spine position is athletes moving into a lordotic position where your hips overly posterior tilt. Sometimes you might also see the ribs flare out or the chest stick out way too much.

Coaching Cues

First, check this post on learning to hold a neutral spine in a hip hinge.

Some common cues you might hear are: chest out, brace your core, chin tucked, scaps back and down.
The truth is, the best cues are the ones that work. You have to know your client and figure out the one description that will help them out the most. Teaching your athletes to hold a neutral spine will improve their lifts, prevent injury, and produce results in their competition.


Quality movement should be the most important focus of a training regimen. This will lead to greater power and strength gains in the weight room, which transfers into your sport. Whether you are deadlifting, squatting, pushing ot pulling, work to achieve a neutral spine.

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