The vertebral column (= backbone = notochord = spine) is a bony skeletal structure found in vertebrates.

A vertebrae is an animal that has a spine, or which is descended from an animal that had a spine.


1   Function

It houses and protects the spinal cord in its spinal canal.

2   Substance

2.1   Matter

2.1.1   Vertebrae

The human backbone consists of thirty-three vertebrae: twenty-four articulating vertebrae separated from each other by intervertebral discs, and nine fused vertebrae.

The vertebrae of the cervical, thoraic and lumbar spines are independent bones, and generally quite similar. The vertebrae of the sacrum and coccyx are usually fused and unable to move independently. Two special vertebrae are the atlas and axis, on which the head rests.

A typical vertebra consists of two parts: the vertebral body and the vertebral arch.

2.2   Form


The vertebrae are divided into different regions, which correspond to the curves of the spinal column. These regions are called the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, sacrum and coccyx.

2.2.2   Thoracic spine

The thoracic curve, concave forward, begins at the middle of the second and ends at the middle of the twelfth thoracic vertebra. Its most prominent point behind corresponds to the spinous process of the seventh thoracic vertebra. This curve is known as a kyphotic curve.

2.2.3   Lumbar spine

The lumbar curve is more marked in the female than in the male; it begins at the middle of the last thoracic vertebra, and ends at the sacrovertebral angle. It is convex anteriorly, the convexity of the lower three vertebrae being much greater than that of the upper two. This curve is described as a lordotic curve.

2.2.5   Coccyx

The coccyx (= tailbone) is ...

3   Curvature


3.1   Kyphosis

Kyphosis is an exaggerated kyphotic (concave) curvature in the thoracic region. This produces the so-called "humpback" or "dowager's hump", a condition commonly resulting from osteoporosis_.

There are two types of kyphosis - postural and structural. Postural kyphosis can be remedied by strengthening certain muscles (as the name suggests, it is just an issue of posture and can be consciously corrected), but I believe you may have the latter. Google Scheurmann's disease for an accurate representation of this. The angle of the vertebrae have grown unevenly and wedge shaped (thus causing extreme kyphosis of the spine). There is literally nothing you can do about this aside from getting surgery.

The thoracic spine is also good for rotation. It’s actually the segment of the spine that we should be using to rotate and twist, not the lumbar spine. The lumbar spine has a maximum rotational range of 13 degrees; the thoracic spine can rotate 35 degrees. [1]

3.2   Lordosis

Lordosis (= swayback) is an exaggerated lordotic (convex) curvature of the lumbar region.

3.3   Scoliosis

Scoliosis, lateral curvature, is the most common abnormal curvature, occurring in 0.5% of the population. It is more common among females and may result from unequal growth of the two sides of one or more vertebrae, so that they do not fuse properly.

4   Posture

Posture is the position of a person's body when standing or sitting.

4.1   Problems


4.1.1   Head retraction



  • For 5 minutes: Stand with your back to the wall. If you have forward head posture, your head is likely not touching the wall. If that's the case, simply retract your head so it is touching and imagine you are grabbing a tennis ball or an orange between your chin and your neck (or actually do it, if you wish). You can also perform these while standing away from a wall, in a queue, at the bus stop, wherever you think of it.

4.1.2   Anterior Pelvic Tilt (APT)


In simple terms, APT is an exaggeration of the curve in the lower spine, which ends up tilting the hips forward, putting pressure on your discs, and also making it look like you have a poochy belly even when you're very thin. If you stand normally against a wall and can fit a wine bottle into the curve between your back and the wall, you probably have APT. Basically, those with APT have a weak posterior chain and back, so need to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings in particular, as well as the entire core (around to the back).


  • Glute accessory: Glute bridges, glute-ham raises, back extensions, hip thrusters, low-bar squats
  • Core work: Planks, roll-outs, hanging leg raises, lying lege raises, side raises, Russian twists
  • Pull motions

4.1.3   Posterior Pelvic Tilt (PPT)


Third from left.

This condition is less common, and is basically the reverse of APT, where the tightness in the posterior chain and back has overcompensated, leaving little to no curve in the spine. Focus should always be placed on creating and maintaining that curve in all movements.


  • Hamstring strength
  • Quad-dominant leg work
  • Core work, e.g. superman

If you can't do pull ups, lat pull down machines and/or pull up assist machines are a great way to get there. Doing pullups to failure and switching to the lat pulldown machine can help you increase your max number of pullups.

Also look at Face pulls to fix shoulders.

Farmer's carries with a strong emphasis on shoulders and spine in alignment. Best posture corrective exercise I've found.

when you slouch, your shoulders round and your shoulder blades kind of rotate forwards. When this happens, the acromion gets moved forward and down, and it reduces the space between your humerus and the acromion. This is a big problem because there's important muscles and tendons (parts of the rotator cuff) running between that space that end up getting pinched, irritated, and possibly torn in the process (a.k.a. shoulder impingement or rotator cuff tendinitis).

Because of this, if you want healthy shoulders, a big bench, and a big chest, you need to have good posture. That means focusing on posture a little more through your day, and if you do a lot of bench press, work the upper back to compensate because if your pecs are too strong, the muscle imbalance can pull your shoulders forward and make it much harder to open up your shoulders and keep good posture.

Free weight exercises for the upper back? Dumbell rows, barbell rows both with scapula retracted and no jerking. These and face pulls + rear delt flies are my favourites.

Yoga has helped me a ton with posture. It's not a traditional thing for serious weight lifters (which I do consider myself), but it's helped me enormously

5   References

[1]Mark Sisson. How to Improve Thoracic Spine Mobility. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-improve-thoracic-spine-mobility/#ixzz3jEiJ6Gzj

Caused by sitting.

APT is when you have your pelvis tilting forward. Posterior tilt tucks it back in caused by strengthening abs and glutes. APT exaggerated arch caused by imbalance of muscle. Dominance in shortening of hip flexor. Pulls down on pelvis into anterior tilt. Second part is exaggerated arch as compensation of extension forward. Glutes are not helping extend. Normally glutes exted hip behind body. If glutes are weak, low back will eb tight and short.

Don't stretch hamstring. APT will have tight hamstring. Pevlis is already tilet that hamstring are on stretch. Hamstring are tight because of pelvis being in that position, not vice-versa. Stretching hamstring will actually make problem worse. Instead, strengthen them.

Tightness in hip flexors pulling down getting a stretching of the abs and a weakness. Can't contract in overly stretched position.

Do combination of lunge and stretch. Take two weight and lunge. Then come into extension. Getting a tretch of the hip flexor.

  1. Stetch low back.
  2. Do flexor free abs.


Have loose abs (distended stomach, sticking stomach out), hyperextend low back, sticking butt out. Pelvis tilts forward causing but to stick out.

Hip flexors and lower back are tight. Hamstrings and abs are weak. So stretch low back and hip flexors, and strengthen hamstring and abs. Hip flexors and stomach are perhaps most important. Root cause is hip flexors are too tight. Probably had a hamstring injury.

To stretch lower back. Grab onto post squat down and sit on heels. Tuck butt under you. Breathe into your belly.

To stretch hip flexor. Put PVC pipe on back like suqtting. Lunge as far as you can. Lean towards the up knee.

TO strength hamstrings, traditional exercises like deadlift are bad because they strength lowerback. Need to isolate hamstring in absence of lower back. Leg curl machine or glute ham raise (kneel on ground and secure ankles with a person or a bar and then lower yourself down flat slowly).

Don't do crunches to strength core because they're hip flexors dominant. Do planks instead, ab roll outs (same as plank), or tummy vacuum.

Usually two different posture problems that people with back pain commonly experience.

PPT is opposite of APT. Has tight abs, weak lower back, loose/weak hip flexors, and tight hamstrings. This causes the pelvic to tilt backwards.

Weak back and tight hamstrings

People with PPT have trouble keeping low back arched when squatting, or when getting into deadlift cannot keep flat low back. Lumbar spine will bend during deadlift.

Need to strength lower back. Has weak lower back which is why it hurts. Stretch hamstrings. Strength hip flexors. Abs are super tight and need to stretch them out. People might have trouble breathing.

To stretch abs, use foam rolller and lay on the roller, put it underneath shoulder blades, put arms above head, and take deep deep breaths. Also cobra position (yoga), make sure to breathe.

To stretch hamstring, sit against wall with no space between wall and tail-bone. Put feet straight out and point toes up. Another stretch: put leg up on bench or chair, maintain arch in lower back, and push chest forward and keep but back. Feel it in upper hamstring.

To strength lower back, do deadlifts. Stiff leg ideally. When performing SLDL, dept is not important as not letting your lower back bend.

To strength hip flexors, do dumbbell step ups and raise knee at top.

Stiff left deadlift. Left should be stiffer (butt higher up) than normal deadlift position. Put majority of load on posterior chain.

Don't let knees go forward. Having weight on the bar makes this easier. Make back parallel ground. Pull up on bar while letting weight fall back; use weight on bar as a counterbalance. Then pull.

To ensure vertical shin angle, can place a box behind you.

If you can't keep back flat, prop the weights up by placing them on bumper plates.


Everyone deadlifting starting position is different based on anatomy. Must start with barbell directly over cent of foot.

Shoulder blades must be directly over barbell. If shoulders are behind barbell, but will drop down, knees will go forward, and you will have to pull bar around your knees. If your shoulder blade is too far fowrad, barbell will swing away from your body and shift weight onto your toes, causing you to lose balance.

If your torso is longer than your legs, your hips will be lower and back near vertical. If your torso is short relative your legs, your hips will be relatively high and back parallel to the ground. Angle of back depends on how you are built.

My legs are roughly 3ft. Shoulders are a 4'8" so torso is 1'8".

Do not deadlift with shoulder blades retracted. They should be down. Tighten lats. DL with round upper or middle back is because they're weak or don't know how to engage it. It's okay though; some competitive lifters do so intentionally to reduce the length they have to move the bar.

No leg drive.

A jerk is a press when your get under the bar and then standup. Split jerk puts in you into a lunge position then brings the feet together before standing up.

Want forearms to be perpindicular to barbell. Thumbs should be just outside shoulders. Rest triceps on lats.

Want elbows slightly in front of bar. If they are behind the bar, the bar slides down chest and you're forced to push around your head. If front allows you to push up in a straight line.

Take a big breath to keep the bar up high.

Proper torso lean: do not hyperextend low back. This causes low back pain. Instead, squeeze glutes and push hips slightly forward.

Bar path should be straight line. If you're standing up sright will need to push around your head.

With good shoulder mobility you should be able to reach hands over head without having to arch back. Can do shoulder dislocates to improve this. Maintain normal curve in lower spine; don't arch back.

Tight lats. Lat goes from armpit to hip. (It's basically the side of your torso.) If it's tight it will pull your hip up when you stretch your arm above your head. Easy way to fix this is to grab a post, sit back, drop head down, and feel stretch in lower back.

So the real way to correct bad posture is with stretching and strengthening. I.e. stretching chest muscles every day, strengthening back muscles to tighten them up. Essentially developing good core strength / form. There are specific stretches and exercises, or things like pilates or yoga are great -- but it takes a good 6 months or a year of regular activity to make actual real good progress