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The Spinal Column

The spine has many functions in providing us with the capability to lead the lives we do.

Strength and Support

The human body is supported by the spine which also provides strength, especially to the skull which is made up of heavy bones.

The thoracic region of the spine is above all responsible for offering strength and stability to the body. Most of the body’s weight is supported by the lumbar region that allows for flexion movements but not rotation.

The spine and its curvaceous nature together with the range of muscles and tendons, supply our bodies with a means of being able to distribute our weight, and adjust to our changing bodies for example when weight is gained or during pregnancy.

During those times when extra weight is carried, the curves of the spine become more noticeable in order for the body to balance by finding the centre of gravity and maintaining it. This flexibility is allowed by muscles, ligaments and tendons being there.


The complex design of the spine and its accompanying structures of muscles, tendons, ligaments etc, allow the body to move in ways such as stretching, rotating, bending and leaning.

The cervical spine is in charge of allowing movement and rotation of the head and neck, due to the first two cervical vertebrae, the atlas and axis being there, which are a exceptional combination of bones.

Protection of Nerves

The spinal column consistently guards the delicate nerves and the spinal cord, which we could not function without, as certain nerve impulses run the functions of our major organs. The design and position of the vertebrae and certain ligaments structure a network of protection that keeps the spinal cord from attaining injuries.

Blood Supply

Red blood cells and minerals are produced from inside the hollow interior chamber of the bone, known as bone marrow. The vertebrae provide plenty of this bone. There are two type of bone marrow; red and yellow. Yellow bone marrow contains a high level of fat cells as well as producing a number of white blood cells. Red bone marrow is in charge of the creation of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Protection of Major Organs

The skeleton provides a foundation that the ribs are attached to, which surrounds and protects our major organs. The word ribcage is in fact defined as being the sternum (breast bone), which consist of 12 pairs of ribs and the 12 thoracic vertebrae. All human ribs are attached to the spine, but only the upper 7 pairs are attached to the sternum. The structure of the ribs protects the heart and lungs by forming a cage around them.

Absorption of Impact

The spine contains intervertebral discs which offer a way of absorbing impact. These discs are positioned between each vertebrae, not only do they prevent the vertebrae from bumping into each other, they have a substance that absorbs powerful motions which prevents impacts being transferred to the next vertebra, a lot like a shock absorber.

Other Functions

The spine provides a way of connecting the upper and lower body by using the sacrum which connects the spine to the pelvis. The coccyx does not have a useful purpose.

Newborn babies have reasonably straight spines, the spine doesn’t develop they characteristic curves until the baby starts to hold the weight of his/her head independently.




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