Without vertebrae, we’d simply flop around like fish out of water. Think of your spine as your body’s ‘foundation’, without which the rest of you wouldn’t perform so well. The vertebral column is a key component of the human musculoskeletal structure. It is home to a total of 33 bones stacked one on top of the other to make up what is commonly known as the spine. So, what types of vertebrae are found in the human body? What is their function? Let’s take a look.
Functions of the Vertebrae
Collectively, the functions of the vertebrae are to ensure that the spinal cord is protected and to support a range of muscles. Vertebrae are stacked one on top of the other with the vertebral arches (central gap where the spinal cord runs through) of each perfectly in line. Other than this purpose, each type of vertebra plays an important role in ensuring that we are able to function effectively:
- Cervical vertebrae are critical for supporting our head, which weighs between 4.5 and 5 kilograms. The first cervical vertebra connects the spine to the skull and allows us to nod our heads forwards and backwards. The second cervical vertebra down allows for the side-to-side ‘no’ motion of the head.
- Thoracic vertebrae are found between the collar bone and just above the naval. They have quite an important job. These vertebrae actually hold the rib cage in place and aid in protecting the heart and lungs.
- Lumbar vertebrae are much larger and stronger than the rest of the spine’s vertebrae – and for good reason! These vertebral bones have one main function: to support the weight of the body. Since they’re big and strong, lumbar vertebrae are able to absorb stresses when we lift and carry heavy objects.
- Sacral vertebrae exist to connect our spine to our hip bones, which are otherwise known as the iliac bones. Along with the iliac bones, the sacral vertebrae form a sort of ring known as the pelvic girdle. Just below the sacral spine, ligaments and muscles of the pelvic floor attach to the coccyx region (the lower end of the vertebral column).
To learn more about how the vertebrae are made up, as well as how they function, sign up for Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Dissection of Vertebrae Course. It is accredited by the Register of Exercise Professionals South Africa (REPSSA) with 3 CPD points. This makes it the ideal course for personal trainers to maintain their professional status with.
During this learning programme, you’ll get a thorough knowledge of the make-up of this very important part of the body. Course modules include:
- What are the different muscles of the spinal column?
- What is meant by ‘muscle fascia’?
- How to work with curvatures of the spine
- What are the different parts of the vertebrae?
- What are regional characteristics of the vertebrae?