Chantal's Favorite Back Exercise
Step 1 – Finding your neutral spine
The best way to activate the two important muscles that support the spine is to place the spine in what is called a “neutral position”. The neutral spine position is simply one that maintains a natural curve in the small of the back. This alignment keeps the more superficial abdominal muscles from overworking and allows the deep abdominals to do most of the work.
Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Position your back so that you have a natural arch in the small of your back. You should be able to place your hand between your back and the floor. Make sure that the curve is happening at the small of your back and not up higher in the ribcage area.
Step 2 – Activating the back stabilizing muscles
I mentioned earlier that this exercise can be done in any position. To learn the exercise, try it lying down on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Later, you will be able to do
the same exercise sitting or standing. Find your neutral spine position.
Place your hands on the lower part of the abdominals, just inside the hip bones (below the belly button).
While maintaining the neutral spine, draw your abdominals in by concentrating on hollowing out the tummy as you pull your belly button in the direction of your spine.
Under your fingers, you should feel a tightening of the muscles. You should not feel a bracing or pushing out. Rather, you should feel as if the muscles are being pulled taught under your hands.
Breathe normally and hold the contraction for a count of 10. Count out load while you are learning this exercise so that you know for sure that you are not holding your breath.
Repeat this exercise as often as possible throughout the day.
Common Mistakes to Avoid with the Chantal’s Favorite Back Exercise
Don’t flatten your back as you draw in your abdominals.
Many people have been taught to do this. The only time this is appropriate is when you are doing very strenuous abdominal exercises that require the full activation of the rectus abdominus muscle (superficial abdominal muscle). To target the deep abdominal muscle, we need to keep the natural curve in the back (neutral spine).
Don’t hold your breath.
Breathe normally throughout the exercise. You should be able to carry on a conversation as you practice pulling in your abdominals.
Chantal’s Favorite Back Exercise In Sitting and Standing
Now that you know how to do this exercise lying down, let’s find your neutral spine in sitting and standing so you can start strengthening your transverses abdominus and multifidi muscles anywhere, anytime.
Neutral Spine in Sitting
Sit with the weight of your body resting on your “sits bones”. These are the large bones that stick out from your pelvis, at the base of your bottom. Most people like to sit with their body weight further back, towards their tailbones. This position creates a slouched posture and flattens the lower back. Remember to maintain the lower back arch by sitting up onto your sits bones.
Now that you have found your neutral spine in sitting, you can perform Chantal’s Favorite Back Exercise exactly as explained in the previous section; hollow out the abdominal area by drawing the belly button towards the spine (don’t move the spine though, keep in the neutral position).
Practice this exercise throughout your day, as often as possible (while in your car, at a red light, when talking on the phone, watching TV, during a work meeting).
Neutral Spine in Standing
Stand with your hands on your "sits bones" at the base of your bottom.
Imagine the sits bones separating away from each other. This image will encourage the buttocks muscles to relax and the lower back curve to rest in a naturally arched position.
Now that you have found your neutral spine in standing, you can perform the back exercise exactly as explained in the previous (Step 2) section; hollow out the abdominal area by drawing the belly button towards the spine.
Practice this exercise throughout your day, as often as possible (while in line at the bank or grocery store)
Proper Neutral Spine while
Standing with hand placement.
Poor Standing Posture