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  • To identify and differentiate the various types of vertebrae in the spinal column

  • To label on a skeletal chart the types of vertebrae and their important features

  • To appreciate the joint structure and role of the ligaments in providing stability to the spinal column

  • To draw and label on a skeletal chart the larger muscles of the trunk and the spinal column

  • To demonstrate and palpate on a human subject the movements of the spine and trunk and list their respective planes of motion and axes of rotation

  • To palpate on a human subject the larger muscles of the trunk and spinal column

  • To list and organize the muscles that produce the primary movements of the trunk and spinal column and their antagonists

  • To learn and understand the innervation of the major trunk and spinal column muscles

  • To determine, through analysis, the trunk and spinal column movements and muscles involved in selected skills and exercises

The trunk and spinal column present challenges in kinesiology that are not found in the study of other parts of the body. The vertebral column is quite elaborate, consisting of 24 articulating vertebrae with an additional 9 nonmovable vertebrae. These vertebrae contain the spinal column, with its 31 pairs of spinal nerves. Most would agree that it is one of the more complex parts of the human body.

The anterior portion of the trunk contains the abdominal muscles, which are somewhat different from most other muscles in that some sections are linked by fascia and tendinous bands and thus do not attach from bone to bone. In addition, there are many small intrinsic muscles acting on the head, vertebral column, and thorax that assist in spinal stabilization or respiration, depending on their location. These muscles are generally too deep to palpate and consequently will not be given the full attention that the larger superficial muscles receive in this chapter.


Vertebral column

The intricate and complex bony structure of the vertebral column consists of 24 articulating vertebrae (freely movable) and 9 that are fused (Fig. 11.1). The column is further divided into the 7 cervical (neck) vertebrae, 12 thoracic (chest) vertebrae and 5 lumbar (lower back) vertebrae. The sacrum (posterior pelvic girdle) and the coccyx (tailone) consist of 5 and 4 fused vertebrae, respectively.

FIG. 11.1

Complete vertebral column, left lateral view.

The bones in each region of the spine have slightly different sizes and shapes to allow for various functions (Fig. 11.2). The vertebrae increase in size from the cervical region to the lumbar region, primarily because they have to support more weight in the lower back than in the neck. The first two cervical vertebrae are known as the atlas and the axis, respectively, ...

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