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F*#k Neutral!

contrology collective find the efficiencies heath lander neutral spine reformer pilates teach the extremities

There’s still a lot of talk in the Pilates world about neutral spine.

It’s time we put a line through it. Now.

Joseph doesn’t talk about it. Indeed, quite the opposite. He teaches the spine to move via the head; by instructing that we move the head “as much as possible”. He talks about the natural curves of the spine but the ’natural curves he talks about are what ‘neutralists’ would call a dangerously flexed lumbar spine.

I was a neutralist. My initial training in Pilates was verily thick with safety culture and neutralism. The elephantine question in the room was always: If flexibility is dangerous... how can I do these exercises?

Where did this insidious, pervasive concept come from bringing with it the tidal wave of ‘safety culture’? It came from the available science of the day. However, as science does, the literature has gained a deeper understanding, it has proved itself less wrong many times over and in the process shown that the spine is more resilient, more well-designed for movement and better served by repeated, loaded flexion and extension than by bracing it in an imagined position of ‘stability’. In other words, science has shown Joseph really was onto something. The spine is meant to move and it thrives on work and repeated flexion/extension.

If we are going to call ourselves Pilates teachers, practitioners or instructors, isn’t it time we started to speak the language of our practice? Science empowers us now to stop thinking we know better than the man whose legacy we use to leverage our careers, businesses and social media accounts.

Let’s take that empowerment, change our language, don our bloomers, grab our ankles and control box as we open leg rocker our way to lunch yelling “F*** Neutral!” (on the exhale).

Teach the extremities. Find the efficiencies.

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