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The Spine Anatomy

The Spine

The spine provides the body’s most important support and protects the sensitive spinal cord. The back is both stable and flexible, as it consists of 24 vertebrae, which are stacked on top of each other.

It is S-shaped; the spine curves forward in the cervical vertebrae and thoracic vertebrae (neck and upper back), and arcs backwards in the lumbar vertebrae (lower back).

This is the body’s normal shape, and in this posture we are strongest.
The S-shape means that pressure is shared equally between each vertebra. In this situation, the body can cope with it’s maximum load. However, if the working posture is wrong or uneven, an uneven pressure is put on ligaments and muscles leaving us tired and often in pain.


The Vertebrae

The spinal column is is made up of a number of small bones called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of each other. The vertebrae support and protect the spinal cord. They are linked together with smaller movable ligaments and intermediate discs. 

The ligaments – which contain pain-sensitive nerves – work together with the muscles in the body to hold the vertebrae in place. This results in a stable yet flexible frame.


The Discs

Between the vertebrae there is an elastic plate of connective tissue known as a disc. The discs contain liquid and when healthy are very elastic.

They act as a shock absorber between each pair of vertebrae and share any load on the back equally over the vertebrae.

The discs shape themselves with the movement of the back, contracting and expanding as necessary. The discs’ elasticity contributes to the back’s capacity for movement.


The Nerves

Behind the discs and running through the vertebrae is a channel. This contains the spinal cord, which is made up of nerves that branch out to every part of the body. The nerves lead signals from the world outside back to the spinal column. These signals can relate to cold, touch or pain.

The spinal cord conveys the signal on to the brain where the information is interpreted. Back the other way, signals from the brain are directed via the spinal column to the nerve fibres. These signals to and from the brain enable us to move voluntarily.


The Muscles

Muscles are the body’s motors. This is common knowledge, not least for those who dance or are involved in sport. Muscles are situated throughout the body and make up about half of our body weight.

Muscle is a tissue that takes care of the body’s movements and contractions of internal organs. If we lie on our stomachs and get up, it is our back muscles that are working, and if we lie on our backs and sit up, it is our stomach muscles doing the work.

A muscle has only one active movement and that is to contract. Muscle contractions occur over joints, which in turn are converted into movements.


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