The “S shape” of our spine allows our spine to function like a shock absorbing spring that effectively transfers energy/movement from the ankles, knees, and hips, to the shoulders.
When your ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders function well and are balanced, you’ll find there are 3 subtle curves in the spine and the entire spine can fluidly bend, flex, and twist without symptoms or limitation.
There are two anterior curves, one in your lower back, the other in your neck, and one posterior curve in your mid back. All 3 curves, when surrounded by functioning muscles, balance the weight of the upper body evenly, act as shock absorbers, and allow fluid symptom free motion.
Conversely, when the muscles don’t function well, you either lose this “s shape” completely and have a flat back (like you see above left) or you move to an extreme “s shape” like a hyper arched lower back or rounded mid back…and in extreme cases of imbalance and dysfunction, you see curves form laterally (scoliosis) .
All three are really the same problem just showing up in different ways. These spine positions, are all signs that your muscles can no longer properly move the bones so they default to whatever they can do and is within their limited ability and control.
Your muscle function dictates spine position, and spine position dictates its ability to function and do its job.
So when your spine loses any of these favorable curves over time, your body resorts to a last ditch effort of contracting/tensing all the muscles that surround the spine, hips, and shoulders, as as an attempt to “lock down” your movement as to reduce things from moving any further under these unfavorable conditions.
Most people feel this “tightness” and think their back hurts because its tight…yet that tightness in most cases might actually be the only thing “protecting” your spine from further issues or damage.
An example of this is someone stretching day over day, and not really getting looser, or even worse, experiencing more pain/symptoms the more “flexible” they become.
By restoring the function of the ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders, the spine returns to a functional natural “S shape” and the central nervous system releases that “tight protection mechanism.”
This can be a simple way to understand why a lot of people are going through my program and seeing massive changes in symptoms and flexibility without any heavy focus on stretching.
Diving deeper: The photo above, shows a loss of all 3 curves. This created that “looking up” head position because his neck curve had almost entirely shifted to a straight position and the head couldn’t look down comfortably so it was easier to tilt the head up. You can also see that last ditch effort of things getting tight to protect movement by look at how hard his shoulders are now having to work by tensing up to “protect” the spine from further movement!
The photos above were taken about 7 months apart after continuously working on the function of his entire body.