7 Amazing Facts I Bet You Never Knew About Your Spine

February 1, 2017

Maria Nolan

Your spine is one of the most important parts of your body and it actually can be quite a fascinating subject to know about. I’m not going to go full blown osteopathy nerd on you here, but the spine really is fascinating. Here are some facts to prove it.

#1: When you are born, your spine will have 33 bones called vertebrae, but adults technically have only 26 vertebrae. So where have the other 7 gone? Well some of them fuse together to form the sacrum (triangular bone at the base of the spine), while others will fuse together to form your coccyx (tailbone).

#2: One quarter of your spine is cartilage or discs, which act as a cushion between each vertebrae. Each adult has 7 vertebrae in the neck, 12 in the upper/mid back and 5 in the lower back. Add in your sacrum and coccyx and there’s your 26 in total.

#3: You are taller in the morning than you are at night. The reason for this is gravity and it is the same reason why astronauts can be 1-2 inches taller after returning from space. During the day, the weight of your body compresses the cartilage so the length of your spine actually shortens. This pressure eases at night so your spine will once again lengthen.

#4: Once you turn 40, the combined effects aging and gravity will reduce your height by around a quarter of an inch each decade.

#5: Humans have the same number of neck bones as giraffes and camels – seven. Bet you thought a giraffe would have way more than this! In fact nearly every mammal will have seven bones in their neck, with the two exceptions being sloths and manatees.

#6: Your spinal cord will carry in excess of a million electrical nerve messages between your brain and your body every single day. It is contained inside the spine, is rope-like in appearance and extends two thirds of the way down your back. The bit below that is called the “cauda equine” which translates as “horse’s tail”. The reason for this is because the strands of nerves inside the spine look like… yep you guessed it; a horse’s tail!

#7: The “Atlas” is the highest bone in your neck. It is named after the Titan god Atlas who, in Greek mythology, was condemned to hold up the sky for eternity after losing a fight. Our neck bone is responsible for holding up our head so that’s where the link is.

Who ever said learning about your spine can’t be fun 🙂

Thanks for reading.