I get this question every now and then when talking to people about the normal structural alignment of the spine. Most everybody realizes that the spine should be straight when looking at it from the front or back. However, this is NOT the case when looking at it from the side.
Many people are unaware that the normal structural alignment of the spine, from the side view, has three distinct curves. The name for this is lordosis (neck and lower back) and kyphosis (mid-back) These curves can be objectively measured with specific structural x-rays and they have a normal value associated with them. which is no different than objectively measuring eyesight, blood pressure, or body temperature. Proper alignment of these curves not only provides balance, support, and shock absorption, they also allow nerve impulses to flow freely from the brain into the limbs and organs.
Perhaps the most important curve is the neck curve or the cervical lordosis. Since this is closest to the brain and the majority of the nerves have to pass through this region to get from the brain to the rest of the body, normal structure is vital. Research has shown that losing the normal curve in the neck causes the spinal cord, nerve roots, and blood vessels to stretch like a rubber band thus causing a pathological tension. This tension can travel all the way down to the lower back region and can be a reason why someone has lower body symptoms. This is also why we examine the entire structure of the spine even if someone has lower back pain.
I came across a recent study that shows a dramatic and eye-opening correlation between the structural alignment of an athletes neck curve and the extent of injury sustained during head-first or direct impact blows to the front-top of the skull.
It was found that athletes with straight or reversed cervical curves (Both of which are ABNORMAL) are prone to complex injuries to the cervical tissues and nerve roots, while those who maintain a normal structural cervical curve have a lot less chance of long-term and complex injuries. This is just another example of how "structure dictates function" and how having an abnormal structure decreases the bodies ability to optimally function.
So whenever I'm describing the normal structural alignment of the spine to anyone, I include the side view. Many of life's activities can change the structural alignment of the spine such as poor postural habits, accidents, and injuries.
Fortunately there exists specific structural corrective techniques to correct abnormally aligned neck curves; which will in turn improve curvature and overall health.
Moore Family Chiropractic focuses on helping people with restoring abnormal structural alignment and proper curvature.