Walking on all four’s

Spine skeletonAlthough man stands on two legs, his skeleton was originally designed to stand on all four. The result is some ingenious adaptions, not all of them successful. Scientists suggest that when humans started walking upright, a terrific mechanical imbalance resulted. When walking on two legs, backaches became common since the spine was ‘deformed’ when humans begun to stand and walk erect. Scientists concluded that the logical treatment for back pain would be to decrease or, ideally, reverse the lordotic curve.

The spine has two alternating curves to create the “S” like shape. In the neck and low back there is normally an inward curvature or sway back down as lordosis. In the thoracic spine the sacrum there is an outward curvature known as kyphosis or hunchback. These curves normally balance out each other so that when the patient stands they are well balanced with their head straight above their hips when viewed from the side.

Lordosis is an increased inward curving of the lumbar spine (just above the buttocks). The spine has three types of curves: lordotic, kyphotic (the outward curve of the thoracic spine at rib-level), and scoliotic (sideways curving).

A small degree of both kyphotic and lordotic curvature is normal. Too much lordotic curving is called swayback (lordosis). Too much kyphotic curving causes round shoulders or hunched shoulders (Scheuermann’s disease).

Scoliotic curving is always abnormal. In the natural state of a healthy spine, the cervical spine has a lordotic curvature, the thoracic spine has a kyphotic curvature, and the lumbar spine has a lordotic curvature. Loss of the lumbar spine curvature is known as a “flat back”.

To reduce the lordotic curve, a series of exercises now called ‘McKenzie Exercises’ have been used widely in many medical back treatment programs. (See link below for exercises)

So, if you’re having trouble walking on two legs, call our office for an appointment with one of our Spine doctors.







Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery