4 Essentials of Spinal Care: #2 Spinal Stability
Updated: Jun 1, 2022
In our last post we went over the 4 essentials of spinal care.
In this post we will dive into the details of #2 Spinal Stability.
What is spinal stability?
Stability is defined as designed so as to develop forces that restore the original condition when disturbed from a condition of equilibrium or steady motion.
Specifically when it comes to spinal stability; spinal stability is the spine's ability to maintain its structure and anatomical relationship with normal physiological loading.
This means that depending on the task differing levels of stability are required. For example when lifting a weight you spine is required to be stiff. When you are running your spine is required to be more mobile. The healthier you're spine the better it can transition between stiffness and mobility.
Now remember the spine works as a unit. So if an area of your spine is unstable it will not work as efficiently and negatively impact other areas.
How do I increase my spinal stability?
There are two systems to spinal stability.
Passive: Vertebrae and joints, Discs and ligaments.
Active spinal stability:
This involves the muscles that make up your core. Now your core is commonly misconstrued with abdominals. Your abdominals are part of your core but not the only part. Your core consists of 360 degrees of your entire torso including your glutes, spinal musculature, chest, and shoulders.
When it comes to strengthening your core I prefer mostly isometric exercises and some specific concentric or eccentric exercises. Isometric exercises are where the muscle is contracted but not shortened. For example planks.
Passive spinal stability:
This involves the vertebrae and joints, discs and ligaments of the spine.
The cascade of spine related pain and dysfunction:
The active and passive systems of the spine interact in a delicate balance. Accidents and injuries damage the ligaments that hold the spine in proper position. When this happens in the short term the active systems (muscles) are forced to compensate. Overtime the increased structural load on the active systems causes pain and dysfunction. As this accumulates the passive systems starts to break down and degenerate at an accelerated rate. This leads to further pain and dysfunction.
What to do about it?
Restoring balance to the head and neck junction restores balance to the passive and active spinal stabilization systems. Proper head and neck alignment is the best thing you can do for the long term health of your spine. We will be going into more detail in the next post about head and neck alignment and how it affects your spinal health and longevity.
Studnicka K, Ampat G. Lumbar Stabilization. 2021 Nov 29. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan–. PMID: 32965850.
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