Keeping Your Spine Healthy: A Guide to Structure and Function

10 Oct, 2023

Your body’s central support structure is the spine, or backbone. The spine is essential to bodily function, connecting various portions of your musculoskeletal system and allowing you to move, walk, and twist. However, like any other part of the body, the spine goes through wear and tear; for example, the disks in between each vertebrae may become damaged through injury or natural aging, resulting in a herniated disk and significant pain. By protecting your spinal health and staying fit through exercises that activate and strengthen the core muscles, you can also reduce or prevent back pain and back injuries. 

Parts Of The Spine

There are three natural curves that form an S-shape in a healthy spine. These curves are designed to protect your spine from injury and absorb shocks to your body. Your spine is made up of several different parts:

  • Spinal cord and nerves: The spinal cord consists of a column of nerves that travel through the spinal canal and extends from the lower back up to the skull. Nerves extend throughout to carry messages.
  • Vertebrae: There are 33 stacked vertebrae (small bones) that form the spinal canal. The spinal canal refers to a tunnel housing the nerves and spinal cord. Except for the lower vertebrae which are fused together, all the other vertebrae move so that you have a range of motion.
  • Face joints: Vertebrae can slide against each other and let you move, twist, and turn thanks to facet joints, which are cartilaginous spinal joints. 
  • Intervertebral disks: These round, flat discs cushion each vertebrae and function as the spine’s shock absorbers. When they wear down or tear, it can press on nerves and cause continual, significant pain.
  • Soft tissues: The spine and the vertebrae are connected by ligaments, which help to hold the spine in position. Muscles around the core and spinal column support the back and allow you to move, and they’re connected to the various bones of the spinal column by tendons to aid movement.

Ways To Maintain and Improve Spine Health

When you get back pain, you may not be thinking about your spine or core. However, the spine and the muscles that protect it are what gives you your range of motion and allow you to bend and use your entire body as well as your back. By strengthening your back and core muscles, you can reduce or prevent back problems and create a protective layer for your spine. Even if you don’t have back pain, regularly engaging in stretching exercises and exercises that strengthen your back can help prevent back pain in the future and reduce your overall risk of injury. Some other protective measures you can take for good spine and back health include:

  • Shedding any excess weight if you are obese, as excess weight puts additional strain on your back
  • Maintaining good posture
  • Bending your knees and using your leg muscles rather than your back muscles when lifting.

Contact Us Today

Having a healthy spine is essential to good health and maintaining a pain-free, mobile existence as you age. If you are looking for a Florida spinal specialist, call the Spine and Scoliosis Center to schedule an appointment today.


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