It needs to be strong enough to provide protection for your spinal cord - the neurological superhighway that connects your brain to the rest of your body - while at the same time remain flexible enough to allow for the near-limitless range of human movement. It needs to handle immense forces, yet it needs to move with absolute precision.
Strength, flexibility, and control. It's about finding the balance. That is where Chiropractic comes in.
Chiropractic has been around for a long while - since the 1890's in fact. However, many people don't realise that spinal manipulation had been in use for hundreds, if not thousands of years before that.
Nearly 2500 years ago, Hippocrates (who is sometimes called the father of western medicine) said "look to the spine for the cause of disease", and even today, although we realise that there are many other factors involved, a properly functioning musculo-skeletal and nervous system is one of the main foundations upon which health and the full expression of human movement depend.
Chiropractors work on the musculo-skeletal system - the spine and pelvis mostly - correcting the dysfunction that occurs there with the use of specific spinal manipulation (chiro's call them 'adjustments').
There are two main effects that occur with every adjustment. Most people who come to the chiropractor are familiar with the increased freedom of movement that comes from having their spine adjusted - this is the straight-forward mechanical effect of having your joints mobilised in this way.
The second, less obvious effect of an adjustment is the neurological effect. The muscles, ligaments and joints of your spine are richly supplied with nerves and sensory receptors that provide your body with information about its position and orientation, as well as its movement. It has been found that some of these receptors respond strongly to the stimulus delivered by a manipulation or adjustment - providing a burst of neurological input to the spinal cord and brain. This burst of input is thought to act both at the spinal cord level where it can help to reduce muscle spasm and modulate pain sensations, and also in the brain where it can improve the feedback to areas of the brain that control movement, coordination and posture. All very handy side effects when it comes to treating spinal dysfunction.
Many people report other benefits from their adjustments, including sleeping better, being calmer and more alert - so it is possible that the neurological effects of spinal adjustments go further still.