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Get in Neutral (This is NOT)

Many of the common pregnancy-induced pains and injuries (such as lower back pain, SI joint paindiastasis recti, and pelvic floor dysfunction) are largely driven by the shifts in your alignment that pregnancy often causes.  The concept of “neutral alignment” may not seem like the sexiest topic when it comes to pre and post natal exercise, but it’s one of the most critical — especially when it comes to preventing pains and injuries, and expediting your postpartum recovery.  Let us explain…

What is Neutral Alignment?

When your body is in neutral, your skeletal structures do the work of holding your body upright, thereby alleviating excess stress and tension from being placed on your muscles. Watch the video below to learn how to find neutral alignment on your own body in a standing position.

So, essentially there are two criteria for getting your body in neutral alignment:

  • Vertical stacking: straight line from ear-shoulder-hip-knee-ankle
  • Neutral pelvis: Rib cage stacked parallel to pelvis (“flashlights forward”)

As we discussed in the video, however, pregnancy tends to pull you out of neutral alignment, like you see below.

Specifically, the following shifts tend to occur:

  • Excessive Lower Back Arch: The growing belly tends to tilt the pelvis downward placing excess pressure on the lower back, abdominal wall, and pelvic floor muscles.
  • Rounded shoulders: The weight of the growing breasts during pregnancy often pulls the shoulders forward into a rounded position, which can lead to upper back and neck pain. This is often exacerbated in the postpartum days with countless hours spent in a “triple-flexed” position (shoulders, elbows, wrists) feeding and holding baby.

Get In Neutral

Once you are aware of what neutral alignment feels like in a standing position, then you can start moving more in neutral throughout your day by focusing on ear-shoulder-hip alignment.  Watch the video below for three important examples.

Here are a few examples of common activities you might be doing as a new parent. Try to position yourself like the images with the green check mark. This will help you mitigate aches and pains, and expedite your postpartum recovery.

Remember Neutral Alignment in Your Workouts

This is important for any individual, but especially important during pregnancy and the postpartum period to avoid excess pressure on the core muscles. Look at the common alignment issues below. Note the excessive low-back arch. Here you might have to think of tucking your tailbone a bit to achieve the neutral alignment position.

At the same time, try avoid the opposite error — rounding the spine. Remember to think of that ear-shoulder-hip alignment. When bending over, think of initiating the movement by reaching your tailbone toward the wall behind you instead of reaching your arms toward the ground.

 

Work out Safely and Effectively

For total body workouts that help you train the important muscles and movements for pregnancy and postpartum, check out our self-guided training programs. Want more personalized support? Consider working with one of our PROnatal Personal Trainers. 

For Professionals

Are you a professional interested in working with the pre and postnatal population?  Explore our education to become a Pre/Postnatal Performance Training Specialist.