Understanding how spine alignment works is crucial if you want to isolate the root causes of all sorts of back and neck pain. Closely linked to our posture, spine alignment is what literally determines whether we can stand up straight every day or not.
And yet, despite its evident importance to all things posture and back pain-related, there seems to be a lot of confusion as to what spine alignment entails, and what can be done to maintain solid alignment as you age. How is it that so little is written about such a vital area of physical well-being?
Rather than let questions sit and gather dust, we decided to write up a quick guide to spine alignment. With our guide, you now have all the most important information you need to understand the spine, in a single document.
What Exactly is the Spine?
The spine is a column of 26 bones that run down your back. Each bone (or vertebrae) is held in place by nine ligaments, which do the lion’s share of the work in holding the weight of our bodies and allowing movement and flexibility.
The spine is broken up into three sections to delineate the different regions of the back. For example, there is the cervical spine, which runs from your head to the bottom of your neck. The cervical spine then expands into the thoracic spine, which runs the length of the back until the lumbar spine, which delineates the portion of the spine in the lower back. The different names for each region help doctors locate symptoms more accurately.
What is Spine Alignment?
In short, spine alignment is the degree to which your spine is perfectly in alignment or not. The closer it is to alignment, the less chance there is of you experiencing pain or discomfort. However, almost all of us live with a spine that is in slight misalignment. The challenge is to keep working on your posture to prevent excessive misalignment and to learn the signs of a dangerously misaligned back.
How to Know if Your Spine is Misaligned
A poor posture, bad ergonomics, emotional stress or trauma, repetitive motion – these are all common activities that damage your ligaments and, if left untreated, induce the ligaments and vertebrae to stabilize in a misaligned position.
What is Spinal Adjustment?
If you’re experiencing pain in the back and are not sure why, the answer might very well be spinal misalignment. When the ligaments and vertebrae signal to the body that there is a problem in the spinal region, the muscles around the area usually tend to tighten up. This is the surface area activity that you experience as a strain or pain, but massaging the pain away will not get at the root of the issue.
In this type of situation, a spinal adjustment is needed to correct the curvature of the bones and ligaments. Chiropractors perform a spinal adjustment to realign the malpositioned area of the back and restore alignment. A number of techniques exist for the application of a spinal adjustment, but the end result is always the same: returning a misaligned vertebra back to proper alignment.