The beautiful partnership between your spine and your health

Have you ever thought about how your spine works and what it does?

In the day-to-day bustle of life, not many people do. Yet, this incredible piece of living machinery enables you to move, keep upright, and acts as the strong foundation for your body. It both protects and directly contributes to how your nervous system works. Its design, in essence, perfectly matches its function.

The spine consists of many bones (or vertebrae): seven cervical, twelve thoracic, and five lumbar vertebrae, plus the sacrum and the coccyx at the base. Most vertebrae are held together by facet joints, which click together like tongue and groove floorboards, and strong discs.

While the spine is incredibly strong and supportive, it also wields a secret power. It is key to brain function. As researcher and Nobel Prize winner, Dr Roger Sperry, said, “Ninety percent of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine.” The Motion of the spinal joints enables us to know where we are in space and contributes to movement control and coordination.

The spinal canal surrounds and encloses our spinal cord, protecting the delicate nerve tissue that is critical for the brain and body to communicate. At each vertebral level, a pair of nerves exit. These spinal nerves stimulate muscles, skin, and the fight and flight and rest and relax systems. This enables us to move, feel, respond to threats, and to relax and recuperate.

Muscles attach one vertebra to the next and act to stabilise the spine, maintain posture, and enable movement. Ligaments also secure one bone to another, and provide mobile strength. The fascia provides another piece of the spinal puzzle. The fascia is a strong tissue that modulates tension and stiffness, and adds strength.

With its involvement in nervous system function, its support of the body, and the effect it has on wellbeing, it’s no wonder chiropractors focus on caring for the spine! As spinal joints become jammed and underperform, muscles in the back become stressed and strained from poor posture, function decreases, and injury can occur with profound effects on your health.

As you can see, it’s important to look after your spine. Daily exercise, a variety of fresh, nutrient-rich whole foods, maintaining an ideal weight, and being smoke-free are fundamental elements for spine health. Correct posture, appropriate lifting techniques, and strengthening and stretching muscles are also essential preventative steps.

Chiropractors offer a customised, drugfree, hands-on approach to spinal care. As well as helping with existing spinal health issues, they can assist you in maintaining healthy spinal practices that will improve your overall wellbeing.

This article first appeared in the March/April edition of ‘Your Chiropractor’. Come into Jowett and Moulton Chiropractors in the Melbourne CBD to grab your copy today.