From Head to Tail

From the Cervical Spine to the Tail Bone

The cervical spinal column: The cervical spinal column must be strong so that it can carry the weight of the head and can coordinate movements for seeing and hearing. It consists of seven vertebrae. The first cervical vertebra is called the Atlas. It supports the head through a connection in the rear of the head and is as a enables the up and down motion of the head. The second cervical vertebra is named Axis. It enables the head to turn up to about 40 degrees to the left and to the right. Five more neck vertebrae enable the remaining movements of the neck. The excessive mobility of the cervical spine sacrifices stability. To balance the head the neck and nape muscles must be strong, as they continually must work. Certain professional work activities require strenuous postures and lead to muscle spasms and nerve irritation, especially workers who have to sit for long periods, e.g. secretaries and computer programmers, who are more likely to suffer neck and shoulder pains. These people should balance their work activity with vigorous calisthenics and swimming. Nowadays more and more people are sitting longer and longer from their childhood, playing video games, to their adulthood, doing office work.

The Thoracic Spine: The thoracic spine consists of twelve vertebrae and is flexibly connected with the ribs. Therefore they are very stable and only slightly mobile and they mainly support the twist of the torso. Because of this they rarely have pain or injuries.

The Lumbar Spinal Column: The lumbar spinal column has five very mobile vertebrae, that make possible stooping and bending. It must carry the weight of head and torso. The large mobility and heavy load lead to very high mechanical stress, that increase the risk of premature wear. Back troubles of the lumbar are therefore very frequent.

Sacrum and Coccyx: The adult sacrum consists of five vertebrae fused together at the over the iliosacral joint. The adult coccyx consists of four to five fused vertebrae, which is last remnant of the tail of our earliest known ancestors, used for balance required on the trees, forms the lower conclusion of the spinal column. Bones of the sacrum and coccyx sometimes are incorrectly called "vertebrae".