All About the Back!

In this episode of Benefit Bodies, our Anatomy Blog Series, we will examine the anatomy of your Back. The back is comprised of many different structures that provide both stability and mobility of the body. 





The back’s structure is composed of the vertebral column. It is also called the spine,  spinal colum or backbone.  The vertebral column usually consists of 33 bones called vertebrae that can be divided into 5 regions. Each region has a different structure.

The Vertebral Column has 4 functions:

Protection – The vertebrae protect the spinal cord, which runs through the center of the bertenrae, from damage.

Axis –  The vertebral column forms the body’s central axis. 

Support – The vertebral column supports the body’s weight from the waist and upwards.

Movement – provides our body’s posture and allows it to move safely. 


There are 5 regions of the vertebral column.

    • Cervical – 7 vertebrae
    • Thoracic – 12 vertebrae
    • Lumbar – 5 vertebrae
    • Sacrum – 5 (fused) vertebrae 
    • Coccyx – 4 (fused) vertebrae 


Vertebrae There are 2 aspects of each vertebrae: the Vertebral Body and Vertebral Arch. Each vertebrae has 5 important prominences: 

    • Spinous Process 
    • Transverse Process
    • Pedicles 
    • Lamina
    • Articular Process




Joints and Ligaments – The joints of the vertebrae contain cartilage due to having to bear weight. There are two important ligaments within each vertebral body: the anterior and posterior longitudinal ligaments. The anterior ligament prevents hyperextension (backwards) of the vertebral column and the posterior ligament prevents hyperflexion (forward) motion. The anterior ligament is much stronger than the posterior ligament. (*Fig.4)

Muscles – Muscles of the back are separated into 3 primary groups: Superficial, Intermediate and Deep.

Superficial – aides movement of the shoulders and includes: Trapezius, Latissimus Dorsi, Levator Scapulae, Rhomboids.

Intermediate – aides movement of the thoracic cage and includes: Serratus (posterior inferior & posterior superior).

Deep – aides vertebral column movement and includes: Splenius Capitus & Cervicis, Iliocostalis, Longissimus, Spinalis & Semispinalis, Multifidus. 



The Spinal Cord – a bundle of nerve tissue that runs from the brainstem to the lumbar vertebrae. 

The Spinal Meninges   Three membranes that surround the spinal cord. They contain cerebrospinal fluid that supports and protects the spinal cord. These three membranes are the Dura Mater, the Arachnoid Mater, and Pia Mater.

The Spinal Nerves –  The nerves which make up the peripheral nervous system. They originate at the spinal cord and form a single spinal nerve.

There are specific physical therapy treatments for injuries of the spine and other areas of the back.

 ********Tune in next time when we discuss common spinal and back injuries and their coinciding physical therapy treatment! ***********