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The Vertebral Column: How To Have A Healthy Spine

By Jayton Miller

Back pain plagues 16 million adults on a daily basis. Learning the anatomy of your back aka the vertebral column (also known as the backbone or spine) will help you understand how to take care of it and prevent back pain from happening to you. Lets dive into it...


General Structure And Function Of The Vertebral Column:

General Function Of The Vertebral Column

The vertebral column is the backbone of the human body. It is made up of 33 vertebrae Its main roles are to allow for flexibility, keep us upright, and protect the spinal cord from damage. The spine attaches to the pelvic girdle via the sacrum and lumbar vertebrae and supports the skull via the cervical vertebrae in the neck region.

There are five main sections of the vertebral column:

  • The Cervical Spine: C1-C7
  • The Thoracic Spine: T1-T12
  • The Lumbar Spine: L1-L5
  • The Sacrum
  • The Coccyx

There are four curvatures in the spine:

  • The Cervical Curvature - Anteriorly Convex (leaning forward)
  • The Lumbar Curvature - Anteriorly Convex
  • The Thoracic Curvature - Posteriorly Convex (leaning backward)
  • The Sacral Curvature - Posteriorly Convex

In the fetus there is a single curvature of the entire spine. The cervical curvature is usually developed as the baby learns to support its head, and the lumbar curvature begins to develop as the baby learns how to walk.

In between each of the vertebrae is a disc known as the intervertebral disc. These are made up of connective tissue with a jelly like center. These discs act as shock absorbers when the vertebrae are compressed together. They also make up about 25% of the length of the vertebral column and are compressed throughout the day. This is why we go to bed a few centimeters shorter than when we woke up as water is replenished overnight.

Read More: Movement is Medicine | A Guide To Moving Better

Common Challenges Of The Vertebral Column:

Common Issues With The Vertebral Column


Some of the most common issues or challenges that are seen with the vertebral column are:

  • Scoliosis - abnormal curvature of the spine
  • Herniated disc - when the intervertebral disc is being pushed out of its proper place
  • Whiplash - trauma of the neck through sudden forceful movements of the head
  • Compression Fracture - fracture of the vertebrae due to over compression of the spine
  • Sciatica - Irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve

These are just a handful of the many issues that are seen with the spine. If you believe that you have one of these issues make sure to talk to a medical professional to get help.

Easy Ways To Help Support A Healthy Vertebral Column:

How To Keep The Vertebral Column Healthy

Some of the most common issues of the back can be prevented with proper posture and string back muscle. Some of the best exercises for a strong and healthy back are:

  • Jefferson Curls
  • Row variations
  • Pull ups
  • Romanian Deadlifts
  • Hyperextensions

These are just a few of the many exercises to build a strong and healthy back. Generally having a healthy diet and getting movement on a daily basis is going to help build the foundation you need to have a healthy back, then adding these exercises in can put the icing on the cake.


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Overall, back problems are one of the most common issues people face on a daily basis. Knowing the anatomy of the back, how it works, and how to make it stronger and more resilient is going to give you the tools you need to have a healthy back for the rest of your life.