How do you know where neutral spine position is? We so often talk about “keep your midline tight!” or “stay in neutral!”. But how many of us really know where neutral is… or for that matter WHAT neutral is.
Neutral spine position is roughly halfway between your two ends of motion. To find what your neutral is, you need to go to the end ranges and then find where ABOUT halfway is. The cat camel is a great way to explore the end ranges of spinal motion. It is basically unloaded since you are on all fours, so there is little risk of injury here (do NOT push into pain without professional supervision).
The primary function of the cat camel isn’t to find neutral position, however. It’s primarily used as a spinal mobilization. Research has shown that the viscosity (stiffness basically) of the spine decreases after 10 cycles of the cat camel. This means that doing 15 is not better than 10. Your spine should be able to move painlessly through a full range of motion.
When performing this mobilization, you should have a pretty smooth continuous motion. IT IS NOT A STRETCH! It is movement. Move to the end range and then go in the other direction. Don’t push the end ranges and don’t stretch the end ranges. Use this as gentle spine motion before going into more vigorous warm ups. I don’t care how far you can push, I care that you are moving through a pain free motion. Period. Spinal flexibility doesn’t decrease risk of injury.