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A:Human Spinal Column

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There are 33 vertebrae in the Human Spinal Column.

Vertebra is a single bone while vertebrae are the collection of all those vertebral bones together.

1) There are 7 vertebrae in the Cervical section.  Abbreviated as: C1 to C7.  These are the neck bones of the spinal column.

2) There are 12 vertebrae in the Thoracic section.  Abbreviated as: T1 to T12.  These are the bones which correspond with our ribs.

3) There are 5 vertebrae in the Lumbar section.  Abbreviated as: L1 to L5.  These vertebrae are the biggest of the spinal column.  These are the vertebrae found in the lower back.

4) There are 5 vertebrae in the Sacral section.  Abbreviated as: S1 to S5.  These 5 Sacral vertebrae are fused together as one section and are known collectively as the Sacrum.  These bones are found at the back of the pelvis.

5) There are 4 fused vertebrae in the Coccygeal section, referred to as the Coccyx or tail bone.

NOTE: The most common variabilities reported in thoracolumbar anatomy are the presence of 13 rib-bearing thoracic vertebrae with four lumbar-type vertebrae and the presence of 12 rib-bearing thoracic vertebrae with six lumbar-type vertebrae (3). Source.

Try This Exercise

NOTE: This exercise should be performed very slowly and mindfully.  It is meant to be an educational exercise to become more aware of your spine and it’s function.

1) Start Position:  Lean against a wall with heels approximately six inches from the wall.  Allow the knees to bend approximately 20 degrees.  Arms dangling by your side.  Top of the head reaching up to the ceiling which gives the spine a feeling of elongation. Inhale and Exhale.

2) Inhale.  Exhale while rolling one vertebra at a time away from the wall until your head is pointing at the floor.  The knees remain fixed in their 20 degree bend.  The only movement occurs through the vertebrae and eventually at the very end, at the hip joints as you pass through the fused vertebrae of the Sacrum and Coccyx.  Arms are still dangling.

Tip: Before each vertebra leaves the wall think of pressing it into the wall like engaging a release button and visualize that vertebra rising up and over the vertebra below it as it curls forward.

3) Inhale and Exhale in this upside down position.

4) Inhale. Exhale as you retrace your vertebrae back up the wall.  The knees are still fixed in the same 20 degree bend.  First the hip joints will allow the pelvis to pivot on the spot returning the sacrum to the wall and as the Lumbar vertebrae make contact in reverse sequence, the pelvis will right itself to neutral, pointing the sit bones to the ground. Simultaneously unravelling the Thoracic vertebrae, followed by the Cervical vertebrae and finally re-stacking the cranium onto the Atlas (C1).

Tip: Though difficult to feel movement in the individual Cervical vertebrae, Sacrum and Coccyx, move slowly and mindfully with this purpose.  If you run out of breath, stop where you are, Inhale, and continue moving on the Exhalation.

5) Repeat this Sequence a few more times if it pleases you.  This is a nice exercise to do daily.

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