When talking about the back, we are actually talking about the spinal column, which consists of a series of small bones called “vertebrae” stacked on top of each other. Each of these bones is connected to one another through a series of joints. The first is the intervertebral joint, which is formed when two vertebrae are joined together by an intervertebral disc. The second and third joints are known as facet joints. These joints are located on the back of the spine and consist of the small, bony processes that extend back from the vertebral bodies. These joints between each vertebrae allow the spinal column to bend, which is important to all of our every day movements. However, spine mobility comes at a cost because it makes the spine less stable. In fact, research has shown that by itself, the spinal column will actually collapse and buckle under as little as 20 pounds of pressure.
To protect the spine, a complex series of muscles surrounds the spinal column to control movement and protect the area from injury. These muscles are arranged in several layers.The deepest layers consist of very small muscles that attach into each individual vertebrae and control and protect each individual joint. The middle layers span across several joints, and the outer layer consists of the larger, more powerful muscles that run the entire length of the spine, all the way from bottom to top. This complex muscle system essentially acts as a series of guy wires that move and stabilize each vertebrae and prevent excessive motion and buckling of the spine. When each muscle group is adequately strong, flexible, and coordinated the back remains protected and healthy.