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Back Bio-Mechanics

At Ortho-Worldwide we realize that most people have experienced back pain sometime in their life. The causes of back pain are numerous - some are self-inflicted due to a lifetime of bad habits. Other causes of back pain include accidents, muscle strains, and sports injuries. Back supports or back braces alone may not alleviate back pain without proper back posture. Wearing a lumbar support back brace assists in learning proper lower back posture and healing, therefore greatly reducing the chances of re-injury.

The Original Cincher is a superb back support for women as well as great posture supporting brace. The Mueller Adjustable Back Brace and the Captain Back Support With Shoulder Straps are both superb supports for men while also assisting in good posture habits.

Posture supports in conjunction with proper back posture assist significantly in reducing overload of the lower back, therefore reducing the chance of a lower back injury and lower back pain. Even the mere usage of a lower back cushion can a have significant effect on keeping the back properly aligned and assisting in learning proper posture. The Comfor Care Back Cushion With Attachment Strap has all of the attributes of an ideal lower back cushion.

Below is a brief overview of Back Bio-Mechanics, as illustrated, you can see why proper back posture is crucial for a healthy back.

Biomechanics is the term used to describe movement of the body. This section is a review of basic spine biomechanics. In order to better understand the biomechanics of the spine it is important to understand the anatomy of the spine.

More than one million workers suffer back injuries account annually, and these account for one in five workplace injuries (Bureau of Labor Statistics). 80% of these injuries are to the low back (lumbar spine). Back injuries cost the US economy billions of dollars each year.  The human spine has 33 bones (vertebrae) separated by cartilaginous shock-absorbers (discs). The spine is supported by ligaments and muscles. The natural shape of the spine creates three balanced curves (lodrotic cervical region, kyphotic thoracic region and lordotic lumbar region).

Many postures can produce a change in the geometry of the spine, but moving from moving from standing up to bending down, and then from bending down to standing up (during these movements the lumbar spine goes from being lordotic to kyphotic to lordotic), and when this is combined with lifting or lowering a load it creates a particular risk for a low back injury.  The spine is one of the most complex parts of the body. The spine can be divided into five sections: the cervical section (the neck), the thoracic section (the upper back), the lumbar section (the lower back), the sacrum (part of the pelvis) and the coccyx (the tailbone). Each section of the spine has unique features that allow it to move certain ways and do different things.

Vertebrae in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar sections of the spine are separated by a structure called the "intervertebral disc". This disc forms part of the joint that connects the "bodies" of two vertebrae. This joint allows very little movement between two vertebrae. The facets are paired, flat areas of the vertebrae that form joints (facet joints) with the facets of the vertebrae above and below (see diagram). The majority of spine movement occurs at these joints.  The main movements of the spine are to bend forward (flex), bend backward (extend), side-bend (side-flex), and rotate.

In the thoracic section of the spine there are 12 "thoracic" vertebrae. The joints between the vertebrae in the thoracic section of the spine allow flexion, extension, side-flexion and rotation to occur. In the thoracic spine the individual ribs attach to the vertebrae. The ribs provide stability to the thoracic spine and help to control motion.  In the lumbar section of the spine there are 5 "lumbar" vertebrae. The joints between the vertebrae in the lumbar section of the spine allow small amounts of flexion, extension, side-flexion and rotation to occur. The lumbar spine has the least amount of movement when compared to the thoracic and cervical sections of the spine.

The sacrum is a single bone that forms part of the pelvis. This triangular shaped bone is made up of 5 fused vertebrae. The coccyx is also a single bone that is made up of 4 small fused vertebrae. It attaches to the bottom of the sacrum.  There is no movement between the fused vertebrae in the sacrum but there is a small amount of movement in the joints that connect the sacrum to the left and right pelvic bones. These joints are called the sacroiliac joints. The sacroiliac joints play a role in transferring the weight of the spine and upper body to the pelvis and legs.

Finally, normal spine biomechanics is required to maintain a healthy spine. Abnormal biomechanics can be classified as hypomobile (decreased) movement between vertebrae, hypermobile (increased) movement between vertebrae or instability (severe loss of stability). Muscle weakness, ligament injury, broken bones or damage to the intervertebral disc can all lead to abnormal biomechanics, a major factor in the development of neck and back pain.

Back Bio-Mechanics