“Curvatures in your spine are perfectly normal.“
Why do we have these curvatures? Because we humans have evolved to become bipeds: we walk on two legs!
This is a unique feature of bipeds, quadrupeds don’t have these secondary curves. Take our closest cousins, chimpanzees, as an example, they have long C-shaped spines. Yes, chimps can walk on two legs but it is nothing more than an inefficient waddle, they are not very good at it and you don’t see them do it for long. Chimp pelvises are also longer and narrower compared to ours! Human pelvises have evolved to become shorter and wider, all the better to support an upright trunk and efficient bipedal gait. Evolution has got our back, literally!
How come some people have increased or decreased curvatures? This is largely genetics. The shape and size of your vertebrae determine the shape of your curvatures. This means no manner and no amount of adjustment or manipulation can ever change the shape of your curvatures. Other factors can influence the curvatures of your spine, such as back strength and underlying medical conditions e.g. osteoporosis. These you can change, you can get stronger so you can better stay upright against gravity, you can also make sure your nutrition, especially your calcium intake, is adequate to support a healthy spine.
“No manner and no amount of adjustment or manipulation can ever change the shape of your curvatures.“
If I have increased or decreased spinal curvatures, does it mean I am destined to have back pain? No. Pain is a multifactorial experience, no one thing can explain away someone’s pain. Your spine may be one of the many contributing factors to your pain experience, sure, but it is definitely not ever the only factor. Curvatures in your spine are not a predictor of back pain. You can have increased or decreased curvatures in your spine and not have back pain. Conversely, you can have middle-of-the-road curvatures and have back pain.
Your spine is robust and strong and it is made for movement. Strength and mobility are important so nourish your spine with regular movement for a healthy and resilient spine.
“Your spine is robust and strong and it is made for movement.“
Selina is a singer-composer-physiotherapist based in Brisbane, Australia. She is the director of MoveMedics and its sister brands: Voice Physio & Pole Physio. She is passionate about dispelling misinformation, simplifying healthcare, and empowering people with evidence-based knowledge for healthy and pain-free living. She enjoys running, attempting handstands, and publishes music under her nom de plume, Asirus.