Ever heard the saying that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder?” Well there are many things that can get a Chiropractor hot under collar including great posture, fantastic flexibility and importantly normal spinal curves. So do you have curves in all the right places?
Spinal curves are a normal part of it’s structural alignment and integrity. When you view someones posture from side on you should see three distinct spinal curves. Under normal circumstances these curvatures are referred to as the cervical lordosis, thoracic kyphosis and lumbar lordosis. These curves allow for even distribution of mechanical stress that may be sustained by the body. Interestingly, in the womb and for a short period of time following birth a babies spine is somewhat C-shaped and is called a ‘primary curve.’ Throughout a child’s development the spine begins to change alignment into the characteristic S-shape that is seen in adults.
Where Should You Aim To Have Curves?
- Cervical lordosis is regarded as being normal ~30-40 degrees. If your cervical lordosis is reduced, as seen with poor posture it may contribute to the development of chronic neck pain, headaches and disc degeneration
- Thoracic kyphosis is regarded as abnormal when an individual presents with a significant ‘hunch back.’ Radiographically this will be ~50 degrees
- Lumbar lordosis is the small spinal curve in the lower back. Typically this can reduce or reverse in people who spend long period sitting or bending over
Abnormal Spinal Curves
Given our bodies are continually resisting physical stress its not surprising that these spinal curves can alter over time. Perhaps the most common reason we see these change is through poor posture. Consider for a moment a person with poor posture, you typically imagine someone who is hunched over, head forward and down. This position will significantly affect the health of the spine and the integrity of these curves. Other conditions in which we see changes to the normal spinal curvature include Scoliosis, Scheuerman’s disease, Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis, Spondylolisthesis and Osteoporosis.