A non-neutral spine leads to “improper posture, [that] especially when walking, puts increased stress on your back and causes discomfort and damage.” When the spine is left in non-neutral posture for extended periods of time, it raises the diaphragm, preventing the body from taking a full breath. This can lead to reduced oxygenation throughout the body. It can also compromise the internal organs’ performance by putting pressure throughout the abdomen. People who sit for long hours on the job are susceptible to a number of mis-alignments.
A proper posture or “neutral spine,” is the proper alignment of the body between postural extremes. In its natural alignment, the spine is not straight. It has curves in the thoracic (upper) and lumbar (lower) regions. There is a slight forward curve in the lumbar region (lordosis), a slight backward curve in the thoracic region (kyphosis) and a slight extension in the tiny cervical vertebra at the top of the spine. In addition, the ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles are aligned as if a plumb line were running from the ears down through the torso into the legs and the feet. In neutral posture, the body is able to function in its strongest, most balanced position. Stress to the joints, muscles, vertebrae and tissue is minimized.