A3 Musculoskeletal Awareness

Structure and Function of the Musculoskeletal System

The Spine

Is the central component of the body around which all movement occurs.  It is constructed of a series of individual bones called vertebrae which are arranged in such a way to create the four natural curves of the spine.  These curves create an ‘S’ shape which gives it both strength and flexibility.  The spine has 4 regions as listed below:



 The main functions of the spine are to:


Provide support for the rest of the body

Allow movement

Protect the spinal cord

Act as a shock absorber 


Muscles – These can lengthen and shorten to allow us to move.  There are different layers of muscles. The deeper muscles act to help maintain correct posture and core stability.


Tendons – These are strong and attach the muscles to bone and assist muscles to contract.


Ligaments – These are also strong and hold the bones together keeping the joint in place.


The Spinal Cord – Is a bundle of nerve tissue extending from the brain and passes down through the middle of the vertebrae. Nerves branch off from the spinal cord at each vertebral level and transmit information to and from the various body structures.


Spinal Cord

Inter-Vertebral Discs

The discs are situated between each vertebrae. They have a jelly like substance in the centre which acts as a “shock absorber” to protect the spine when there is an impact from an activity. The discs have a strong material called fibrous cartilage around the outside which provides protection for the spine and nerves. The discs also provide the spine with a degree of flexibility and movement.