What is the spine?
§ The spine is made up of 24 semi-rigid presacral vertebrae (seven cervical,
twelve thoracic, five lumbar) separated by discs. Five sacral vertebrae
fuse to make up the sacrum, which helps transfer upper body weight to the
pelvis through the sacroiliac joint. The coccyx makes up the bottom of
the vertebral column and is composed of four vertebrae.
§ The spine is therefore composed of 33 vertebrae that form the spinal canal.
§ Intervertebral discs hold vertebrae together, act as shock absorbers, and allow
dynamic spinal movement. These discs measure around one centimeter in height and consist of a gooey center (nucleus pulposus) surrounded by
connective tissue (annulus fibrosis).
§ We can subdivide spinal muscles into the four following categories for better understanding:
1. Cervical Spine muscles: there are many muscles in the cervical region, not all of them attached to the cervical spine, but many of them do such as levator scapulae, trapezius, cervical erector spinae, deep cervical flexors and suboccipitals.
2. Thoracic Spine muscles: these muscles are the intrinsic back muscles as their embryological development begins in the back and are composed from the erector spinae which is formed of 3 muscles: Spinalis, Longissimus and Iliocostalis; Semispinalis thoracis, Multifidus and rotatores.
3. Lumbar Spine muscles: these muscles are very important as they support the weight of the upper body and are involved in moving, twisting and bending. These are: iliopsoas, Abdominal wall muscles, Quadratus Lumborum, Lumbar Erector spinae and Multifidus
4. Sacral Spine muscles: The purpose of these muscles is primarily to provide stability to the joint not to produce movement. They are classified to anterior surface muscles – attached to the anterior sacrum (Piriformis, Coccygeus, Iliacus); and posterior surface muscles which are attached to the posterior sacrum (Gluteus maximus, Multifidus lumborum, Erector spinae)
How can yoga remediate spinal problems?
According to Harvard medical school, yoga is one of the most effective tools for helping soothe low back pain. The practice helps to stretch and strengthen muscles that support the back and spine. Yet unfortunately, yoga is also the source of many back-related injuries, especially among older adults. So, the question is the following: how to get the benefits of yoga practice while avoiding back-related injuries? The answer is “proper form” and good “alignment of the spine”. In yoga, you should use your muscles to bring the foundation of the posture or the stretch, and then follow proper form that slowly lengthens and stretches the spine.