The human spine is made up of 33 separate bones, called Vertebrae, connected together and held in place by muscles and ligaments. The connective muscles in the back can be split into two groups: 'Flexors' and 'Extensors', and both have their own important role to play in keeping the spine protected and allowing it to function alongside the other parts of the body.
Attached to the back of the spine, extensor muscles stabilise your spine, and allow us to stand up-right and lift objects; but ideally they should not be used too often to perform the latter as this can result in both short-term and long-term injuries. Flexor muscles are positioned in front of the spine and include the abdominal muscles. These are responsible, as the name would suggest, for allowing us to flex, but also to bend over forwards and control the lower areas of the spine (Lumbar & Sacrum). The flexors are also an integral part of lifting properly, which involves keeping your back up-right whilst lifting with your legs.
The aforementioned ligaments that accompany the muscles are strong, fibrous bands that are responsible for keeping the vertebrae properly aligned and held together properly. Also present to protect the individual discs for external dangers and from each other, there are a trio of essential ligaments in the spine – the 'Ligamentum Flavum', the 'Anterior Longitudinal Ligament' and the 'Posterior Longitudinal Ligament' – that are collectively responsible for preventing unnecessary spinal movements and for connecting the individual vertebrae to one another.
Now that you know how your spine fits together, find out why spinal health is important and what steps you can take to look after it.