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Inside story - looking at the inner workings of your spine

These are power point presentations which are useful in getting an inside look at parts of your spine as well as simple exercises and advice.

They may be used as a teaching resource, and are copyright protected in the name of Sarah Key, who gave me permission to use them on this condition.

Structure of The Spine

Slides showing the spine as a whole and its individual bones and soft tissue. Most problems come from the soft tissue round the bony structures. This includes tendons, joint capsules, cartilage, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels

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Decompression of The Spine

After prolonged sitting or even standing, fluid oozes out from the discs in the lower back, thus squashing them flatter. They need to take in fluid to resume their normal height and so must be decompressed. This involves using a back block, movements and using various positions to relieve the pressure on the discs. Squatting is highly recommended, also toe bends and rocking. Back curl-ups strengthen Transversus Abdominus, essential for good posture and movement. 

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Unhealthy Spine

There is usually a patten of breakdown in the spine with discs affected first, then the facet joints at the side as they take more stress. These slides focus mainly on the nucleus oozing out of the disc and causing pressure on the nerves. This is what is referred to as a 'slipped disc' and is rare. It may happen without causing symptoms and the nucleus can be absorbed by the body. Persistent symptoms such as referred pain in the leg, muscle weakness, numbness and pins and needles may require surgery. Referred pain may also be caused by a dysfunction in the facet joints.

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Back Exercises

There is a simple set of exercises to keep your back in good condition.

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Use of a Back Block

Using a block to open up the disc spaces of the lower spine. To place the block, lie with knees bent, feet flat on floor. Lift the buttocks and slide the block with its long edge under the pelvis letting it rest with its upper edge level with the edge of the pelvis as it meets the lower spine.Slowly lower the legs straight. It may also be used in the mid position of the spine along its length. When you first use it, leave only for 15 seconds followed by rocking 15-20 times. It can be repeated twice more. It will be uncomfortable at first but if it causes pain try and adjust its position. Maximum time 1". 

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General Back Care

Advice on caring for your back in daily life. Common poor positions in sitting are shown with slumping and slouching. The lower back is best supported with a cushion, especially when sitting for any length of time, such as on long journeys. Little cushions provided by airlines are best used behind the lower back. Toe bends and squatting are recommended throughout the day to refresh the spine. Squatting knee-bends (not shown) are easy and comfortable to do. Good for the knees too. Stools designed for sitting in a semi-kneeling position are good but some find their knees don't take kindly to it. The main message is change position regularly.