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Do You Know How The Back Works?

By Kevin Rudick

It may not seem to be, but the back is a very complex part of your anatomy. We use our backs every waking minute of each day but not many of us ever truly appreciate all it does for us. It’s only when it doesn’t work properly that we realize how important having a healthy back really is. This article will focus on the general structure of the back in order to help you to appreciate how it works.

The back consists of small, stacked, rounded bones called vertebrae which work collectively. This system of bones, collectively called the spinal column, has spaces in the center which allow for the passage of the spinal cord. This cord traverses your body from your tailbone on up to the bottom of the brain. All of your nerves spring from the spinal cord and branch out to various places throughout your body.

There are five sections in your spine: cervical (neck area); thoracic (chest area); lumbar (lower back area); sacral (pelvic area); and coccyx (your tailbone).

There is a natural curve to your spinal column, intended to enable you to move with fluid motions. We are also able to move easily because of the supple discs which lie between each individual vertebra. While soft in the center to accommodate your spinal cord, their outer layer is tougher so that they can resist damage from the bony vertebrae on either side.

The special shape of each vertebra allows for the easy passage of the nerves. These nerves go to organs, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and skin. Nerve impulses are transmitted at lightning-fast speed, relaying messages from the nerves to the organs to the brain, and then back again. This is why there is no delay from the time you place your finger on a hot stove to the time that you scream and pull your hand away.

This overview of the structure of the back should help you to gain a better grasp of how it all works. Though the actual structure of the back is pretty straightforward, pain in the back isn’t so straightforward. There is a complexity to the machinations of the back that cause many of us to experience aches and pains that seem like a mystery. Remember that your back provides the support system and nerve pathways to your entire body; this should help you fully understand just how important it is to properly care for your back.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Rudick, Kevin "Do You Know How The Back Works?." Do You Know How The Back Works?. 10 Jul. 2010. 17 Jul 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Rudick, K (2010, July 10). Do You Know How The Back Works?. Retrieved July 17, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Rudick, Kevin "Do You Know How The Back Works?"

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