Learning how to maintain a neutral spine, brace a neutral spine, and breath properly is integral for spine stability, safe lifting, and overall better function.
It is not a matter of “if” you will injure your back, but “when” you will injure your back if you continually lift with an unstable/unbraced spine. And it does not matter what (or how heavy) you are lifting. Lifting any load, whether it be groceries, a child, a box, or a barbell, requires good stability of a neutral spine to avoid injury.
Most back injuries come from constant poor biomechanics causing the back to initially give up rather than one specific instance. Yes, it seems like it is just one instance since that is when it occurs, but it is an accumulation factor.
To figure out how this works, lie down on your back.
So, for breathing. First off, you need to figure out how separate breathing into your diaphragm (belly breathing) vs. breathing into your lungs (chest breathing). Once you figure that out, you have step one down. Breathing into our diaphragm before we lift something heavy will help to support and protect our spine.
Now, for bracing. This is a bit more difficult typically. Press into the side of your abdomen with your thumbs. Now, try activating your abdominals and “press out” against your thumbs. If you have difficulty figuring out how to do that, do a quick cough and feel what happens. That is what you need to do on demand.
Once you figure those two out, you need to figure out how to do them together. Start by taking a deep breath into your diaphragm, hold your breath, and brace the abdominals.
When you have that mastered on the ground, you can progress to standing with arm movements with light resistance, first in the horizontal direction and then in the vertical direction.
Have more questions regarding this topic? Unsure how to do it? Think you need more help to gain more trunk stability? Click here to schedule a Discovery Visit to discover how I can help you gain the control you need.