Your Back A Simple Structure With Complex Workings

Your back may seem like a simple structure but the back is more complicated than you think. We take it for granted. We lay down on it, bend it, and use it for leverage. Then, when it stops working, we find out real quick how much trouble we are in without a healthy back. Maybe it has something to do with what the back is supposed to do, and more importantly, what the back is not supposed to do.

Structure of the back

Let’s start with the basics. If you remove the skin, the muscle, the fat, and the ligaments, you can see just where we begin with the back. We’ll omit the technical terms and use layman’s terms that we all can understand to begin discovering what forms the back.

Your back is made up of vertebrae, small rounded bones that stack on top of one another. These bones, also referred to as the spinal column collectively, have openings in the middle. That opening is to accommodate your spinal cord. The spinal cord is the long tube that runs from the base of your brain all the way to your tail-bone. All of your nerves arise from the spinal cord and branch out to various places within the body.

There are 5 sections to your spinal column:

  1. Cervical – 7 movable vertebrae in the neck area
  2. Thoracic – 12 movable vertebrae in the chest area
  3. Lumbar – 5 movable vertebrae in the lower back area
  4. Sacral – 5 fused vertebrae at the level of your pelvis which connect with your pelvis
  5. Coccyx – 4 fused vertebrae that make up your tail-bone

Your spine has a natural curve to it which allows you to move fluidly instead of stiff. Another reason we have ease of movement is the spongy discs that reside in between each vertebra. These discs have a soft middle that protects the spinal cord and a tougher outer layer that supports the weight of the vertebra above and below it.

There are spaces between the vertebrae, created by their unique shape, that allow nerves to pass through. These nerves travel to organs, muscle, ligaments, tendons, skin and the like. At lightning speed, impulses are passed from organs to nerves to the brain, and back to nerves and back to the organ. That is why there is no delay from the time you put your finger on a hot stove to the time that you scream and pull your hand away.

That’s the structure of the back, simply illustrated. However, when you’re experiencing back pain, you wouldn’t think so. There is a complexity to the machinations of the back that cause many of us to suffer from aches and pains that seem like a mystery. When you understand that the back is your support system for your entire body, you can better understand the importance of good back care.

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