Neutral Quadruped Position: Fight Gravity!

Sure, you’re not going to use a neutral quadruped position very often. In fact, the only times I use it in my daily life are in yoga or Pilates practice, cleaning cat vomit from the floor, or when I’m playing with my kids. However, since it is a position used in exercising, it’s important to know the correct form. Because it is so vastly different from sitting, standing, or lying down, it’s worth some explaining.

Neutral Quadruped Position

neutral quadruped position

  1. Come onto your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Make sure that your fingers are spread apart so that your hands resemble a starfish.
  2. Push the floor away from you. By doing this, you are activating muscles crucial to keeping your rib cage in the correct place. As you push the floor away, feel your shoulder blades hug the back of your rib cage.
  3. Now, we’re in this situation where we’re really working against gravity, so this step with abdominal engagement is tricky. Think of lifting your belly up toward your spine, but don’t let your abdominal engagement remove some of the curve from your lumbar spine (low back). It’s a tough balance. For me, I find that if I think of lifting my kidneys or the space on my back right below my bottom rib, I can get into a pretty good neutral position.
  4. The arms are active; the abdominals are engaged. Now, it’s time to check the pelvis. The pelvis should be in neutral. Mentally find your SITs bones. They should be pointing straight behind you to the wall. Notice that they are not pointing higher up on the wall or down toward the ground. These deviations indicate a tilt to the pelvis. Make corrections until you find neutral, then check that your arms and abs are still where they should be. Sometimes making a correction with the pelvis will make you lose your form with the arms, abs, or both.
  5. If everything is aligned, make sure your head is lifted to neutral with your gaze at the floor. Feel the energy run from your SITs bones through the top of your head.
  6. Now, you may do the Pilates Swimming modification, Cat/Cow, or Sunbird.

Neutral Quadruped Position Video

Here is a video for the visual learners.

What questions or comments do you have about neutral posture? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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