Pedralta World Fusion®

The Back - Anatomy & Posture

I often have people coming to class with low back pain, so I have decided to publish a series of articles dealing with the anatomy of the back, what you can do to help, and how dance can benefit you.

Structure of spine

The back is made up of a column (the spinal column) of 24 bones (vertebrae) that are stacked on top of each other. This column has 5 names for different parts of the spine:

  • Cervical
  • Thoracic
  • Lumbar
  • Sacroiliac joint
  • Coccyx

 

Structure of the spine Vertebrae

Joints

The spinal cord runs through the middle of the spine and connects the brain to the rest of the body. Where the nerve branches off and come out of the spinal column is called a nerve root.

The bones in the back, the vertebra, are connected together by ligaments. In between each vertebra are discs. These are sacks of jelly-like substance. They help connect the spine together, act like shock absorbers, and give your back its flexibility.

Soft Tissues

The back is surrounded by soft tissue, muscles and ligaments. The muscles of the trunk are divided into:

  • Deep muscles
  • Superficial muscles
Deep muscles

Deep muscles

Deep muscles run from one vertebra to the next two or three. They are next to the bone and work together to keep the alignment of the vertebrae. They do not work to give large force in any movement. They work to keep the vertebrae aligned.

Superficial Muscles

Superficial muscles are larger and longer and are next to your skin. They work to give large force and leverage, and side bending.

Back muscles

Posture

Good posture is very important, and not just for your back. It is the starting point for creating great dance moves.

Why? Good posture:

  • Keeps joints and bones correctly aligned.
  • Helps develop a healthy shape of the spine
  • Opens your chest and lungs - increases feelings of well-being
  • Makes space for major organs to work efficiently for other body functions, for example digestion

Standing

Standing posture
  • Feet hip width apart, with your weight over the arches
  • Knees "soft" - not locked
  • Engage the rhomboids and pull shoulders back and down
  • Head straight and central on shoulders so that your eyes are looking forwards, (imagine string pulling head upwards from the crown)
  • Gently push the bottom of your spine towards the floor, without using the buttocks to do this. (imagine a long tail being gently pulled downwards)
  • Abdominal muscles engaged

Sitting

Seated posture
  • Distribute weight evenly between the hips
  • Keep normal curves of the spine
  • Engage the rhomboids and pull shoulders back and down
  • Head straight and central on shoulders so that your eyes are looking forwards, (imagine string pulling head upwards from the crown)
  • Bend knees 90 degrees
  • Feet flat on floor, hip width apart
  • Abdominal muscles engaged
  • Don't sit in the same position for too long (30mins)