The natural state of your back has three curves, which form an S, plus a final curve that forms the sacrum. We want to make sure that our bodies are aligned along these curves.
1. The first curve of your spine is the cervical (neck) curve. If you sit for prolonged periods of time, it is almost guaranteed that your cervical area is the culprit to headaches and upper backaches due to forward head posture.
2. The second curve of your spine is the thoracic (mid-back) curve. This curve has 12 vertebrae, which are larger and more rigid than the cervical vertebrae, but still flexible. The thoracic curve has a prominent backward (or posterior) curvature. Humpback syndrome (not a technical term) is something we can identify with or have at least seen. When you allow your sitting posture to become relaxed and slouching occurs. If this is maintained over long periods of time, the surrounding muscles will remember the feeling of supporting your frame and thereby fight against a correct posture. Core stretching and strengthening exercises are ideal in addition to massage which relaxes the muscles to prepare them for the change.
3. The third curve of your spine is the lumbar (low back) curve. This curve consists of five massive vertebrae that carry most of the weight of your body. The lumbar curve has a flexible forward (or anterior) tilt. This area is probably one of the most common for “lower back pain.” Loaded flexion movements like incorrect heavy lifting during a deadlift or rounding the lower back during your squats can exacerbate this pain. Ever wonder why your lower back hurts after a day of deadlifts or squats? Massage is indicated especially and most commonly for this area. Tightened muscles occur due to the extra load required when we misuse or overuse without proper stretching. So stretching and deep tissue work in these areas are a must to maintain proper function.
4. A final, fixed posterior curve is the 5 fused bones of the sacrum, where the spine attaches to the pelvis. Micro movements in the sacral area can often cause nerve impingement with severe pain. The sharp shooting pain down your leg often originates from around this area most commonly described as sciatica. Weakened muscles can allow the nerves to not be supported and become inflamed or impinged or simply stretched.
To keep your spine well-aligned and healthy, you must maintain the balance of these curves. By maintaining this alignment you minimize stress on the spine, which helps prevent back pain and injury.
If your posture is good, as illustrated here, these spinal curves lend shock absorption, extra flexibility, and range of motion to your movement. Having evenly developed back muscles and strong abs help support the spine. But if there is too much or too little curve in your spine, or if the curves do not balance properly with one another, your posture is poor, which can lead to structural problems and back pain. Allow a wellness routine of massage in your life to keep that healthy balance before misalignment due to imbalance occurs.