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What Does the Lumbar Spine Control?
The lumbar spine consists of vertebral bones, intervertebral discs, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and ligaments. The lumbar vertebrae are those 33 bones that create your spinal column. These bones are located underneath the cervical and thoracic vertebrae and above the sacrum (pelvis).
A single vertebral disc separates these two vertebral bodies and works with the facet joints to form a joint complex. This joint complex then enables the spinal cord to bend and twist. In short, the lumbar spine is a complex collection of structures that allows it to bear high amounts of stress while facilitating movement within our bodies.
Function of the Lumbar Vertebrae
The lumbar vertebrae's primary function is to support the majority of our body’s weight. The lumbar vertebrae flex and extend, rotating through the vertebrae and the sagittal plane around them.
The lumbar vertebrae increase in size as they descend down the spine, corresponding to weight increases throughout your body. In addition to their functions supporting our weight and helping us move, the lumbar vertebrae help protect the spinal cord and nerves from injury.
Lumbar Vertebrae Design
The lumbar vertebrae have a large central body (centrum) that supports most of your body’s weight. The intervertebral discs are fibrous connective tissue discs that act as cushions between each vertebra. Connective tissue contains mass amounts of water, multiple types of cells, and a fibrous extracellular matrix.
The outer layer of your lumbar vertebrae is a ring-shaped fibrosus that allows a small amount of movement while keeping the vertebrae in place. The inner layer is called the nucleus pulposus, and it absorbs shock between the vertebrae that minimizes pressure placed on the lower back.
Pedicles play an important role in forming the vertebral backward arch of the spinal cord. Their sturdy, short laminae help make up the spine’s arch. As you go down the spine, the laminae reduce in length and increase in width. This spinal arch creates a triangular vertebral opening in the vertebrae, which is larger than the thoracic vertebrae, but smaller than the cervical vertebrae. The purpose of this opening is to allow the spinal cord, meninges, and cauda equina to extend continuously from one side to the other.
The lumbar vertebrae contain broad spines with collections of articular processes relating to the joints which go between the pedicles and laminae, which is organic tissue. These are narrower and thinner versions of the ribs present in the thoracic vertebrae.
There are three tubercles (small bones) in the lower lumbar vertebrae: the costiform process, mammillary process, and accessory process. The lumbar vertebrae’s bony processes serve as attachment points for muscles like the psoas major (large muscles on the spine) and multifidus (fleshy tendons).
Why is the Lumbar Spine Important?
The lumbar spine is important because it stabilizes and supports your upper body. It quite literally holds you up. As such, it is important to avoid lumbar spine injury in order to prevent lumbar spinal stenosis.
Lumbar Spine Stenosis
Lumbar spine stenosis is when the spinal canal narrows, causing an increase in pressure to the nerves moving from the lower back to your legs. This gradual process can happen over many years. With age, your intervertebral discs become less spongy, resulting in a lack of disc height and the possibility of the hardened disc bulging toward your spinal canal.
Bone spurs and ligament thickening are possible side effects of lumbar spine stenosis in addition to inflammation and compression of the nerve. This presents itself as numbness, weakness, pain, or tingling in your extremities, back pain, and cramping when you walk or stand for long periods of time.
How Can You Prevent Lumbar Spine Stenosis?
Now that you know a little more about the lumbar spine, its importance, and lumbar spine stenosis, you need to know how to prevent lumbar spine stenosis.
Support Your Back
If you are putting too much pressure on your lower back, you may develop lumbar spine stenosis. You should make sure you give your spine the proper support it needs, especially while sitting. If your chair isn’t supporting your lumbar spine, it could cause lumbar spine stenosis to develop over time.
The all33 BackStrong chair was designed to give your back the support that it needs. The lower portion of the chair rotates, enabling you to properly support your spine and adjust your back without straining. The all33 also allows you to sit comfortably with proper posture. Sitting correctly is the best way to prevent nerve compression that can cause lumbar spine stenosis.
Stand Up Frequently
Most of us find ourselves sitting for long periods of time, whether at our jobs, on our couches, or at our kitchen tables. If you find yourself sitting still for extended periods of time, you could be damaging your back. Because lumbar spine stenosis comes on subtly and gradually, you may be developing the condition without realizing it.
A general rule of thumb is to stand up at least once every hour. When working, you could even set a “stand up” timer every 45 minutes. This allows your blood to flow evenly throughout your body.
Exercise is beneficial not only for your physical health, but also your mental and emotional health. Exercise doesn’t have to be intense for your body to reap its benefits. Light exercise for 30 minutes, four or five days a week, is a great place to start, remembering to take rest days throughout the week to allow your body to recover and build muscle.
An additional benefit of exercise is that it has the potential to prevent lumbar spine stenosis. When you put less pressure on your nerves and lower spine by exercising, you are reducing your risk of developing lumbar spine stenosis.
Of course, there’s another important way to prevent lumbar spine stenosis during your daily life: your favorite chair.
Have You Considered Your Chair?
It’s more than likely that your go-to chair is not giving you the proper amount of back support. It’s time to consider an upgrade. At all33, we are dedicated to improving your overall experience when sitting in your chair, so you can protect your lumbar spine every day.
We know your time is important, and we know you don’t want to worry about your spinal canal narrowing. That’s why we created a chair that holds you up while promoting your bodily health and wellness.
If you’re looking to improve your posture with ease and get some relief from pain, not to mention preventing more serious damage down the road, it’s time to invest in a chair that truly caters to everything you need. The unique design of the all33 chair supports your upper spine, while cradling your lumbar spine and allowing for natural movement of the pelvis back and forth. Your lumbar spine does so much for you, whether or not you’re thinking about it. It’s time to do a little something for your back and give your lumbar spine the support that it deserves.
Now that you understand more about the lumbar spine and its significance, lumbar spine stenosis, and lumbar spine health, it’s time to start taking preventative steps to protect your lumbar spine. Use your all33 chair to give your back the support it needs, and notice your life—and posture—transform before your very eyes.