More than 90% of all living animal species on our planet get along fine without something that’s at the very center of our human existence. This majority – known as invertebrates – has no vertebral column, or spine.
What’s even more interesting is that the 90% of the rest of the living creatures on our planet without spines really don’t have much in common – except that they tend to have an exoskeleton. This means that the bones or cartilage protecting their bodies and giving it shape are on the outside. It’s the opposite of ours. Why did we evolve with spines, while most creatures did not? That’s still up for scientific debate. Here’s what our spine does for us.
The most important thing our spines do for us is to protect the spinal cord. The spine acts as a kind of armor, shielding our nervous system. This communications system is so important to us that it’s the only other part of the body besides your skull to be completely encased in bone.
A dent or kink in the armor can cause problems. Misalignment of your vertebrae or spinal degeneration can cause important communications between your brain and nervous system to be disrupted. You may feel this as a tingling sensation in your arms or legs, or your body will report it to you as a back ache or neck ache. Maintaining alignment of your spine is at the foundation of chiropractic care.
Your spine commands an orchestra of muscle groups that help you balance and support the weight of your body. It’s the reason we are able to stand upright and walk on two feet. Good posture is crucial for a healthy spine – and that’s in jeopardy if you have a sedentary lifestyle that can include a job that keeps you sitting behind a desk and looking at a computer.
Regular visits to a chiropractor can help you avoid the negative health impacts of poor posture.
We’ve used the analogy of armor to describe the spine – but don’t draw the wrong mental picture. The human spine is extremely flexible. This flexibility allows us to look back over our shoulder and – if we’re in good shape – even bend at the waist to touch our toes.
We benefit from an amazing range of flexibility until we experience a spinal injury or serious misalignment. Then, even a simple action like turning your head to make sure there’s no car in your blind spot before you change lanes can become a nearly impossible action because of the pain. This pain is your body’s way of sounding the alarm that your spine – which very few creatures on the planet possess – needs some care.