Today, I’ve got some amazing pictures of the human spine to share with you. I took these pictures during a recent visit Alli and I had to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.

Each picture gives you an up close and personal view of three different types of human spinal deformities: Spinal Osteoporosis, Spinal Scoliosis and Spinal Osteophytosis. I hope you find these pictures as interesting and educational as I do.

 Plus, viewing these pictures provides us with a valuable lesson about Corrective Exercises and Functional Movement Assessment, which I ‘ll talk about  at the conclusion of this post. .

The Normal Human  Spine

For reference purposes- Here’s what a normal Human Spine should looks like:

Normal Spine

3 Common Spinal Disorders

Here’s an overview picture displaying all three Spinal Disorders:

Spinal Osteophytosis, Scoliosis and Osteoporosis

Spinal Osteophytosis

A condition characterized by formation of multiple osteophytes:  Outgrowth of immature bony processes from the vertebrae, reflecting the presence of degenerative disease and calcification. It includes cervical and lumbar spondylosis.

Spinal Osteophytosis

Spine Osteophytosis


Spine Scoliosis

Spine Scoliosis

A disorder that causes an abnormal curve of the spine, or backbone. Scoliosis is about two times more common in girls than boys. It can be seen at any age, but it is most common in those over 10 years old. Scoliosis is hereditary in that people with scoliosis are more likely to have children with scoliosis; however, there is no correlation between the severity of the curve from one generation to the next. Go here to learn more about Scoliosis.

Spinal Osteoarthritis

“Osteoarthritis of the spine (also called spondylosis) is a degenerative disease affecting the facet joints (spinal joints) and the intervertebral discs. Osteoarthritis usually doesn’t begin until after the age of 45 and is the most common after the of age 60, but may occur at any age.” Definition taken from BigBackPain.comGo here to learn more about Osteoarthritis of the spine.

Osteoarthritis of the Spine

What Do these Pictures tell us about Posture, Pain and Corrective Exercise?

Aside from the educational nature of viewing these three common spinal disorders close up – These pictures teach us Fitness Professionals, Sports Coaches and Physical Therapists a valuable lesson…

The lesson is: You can’t alway blame muscle imbalances (muscles being too tight, over-active or too weak and inhibited) for all poor postural, pain and movement dysfunctions. As you can see, all these spines have all been structurally modified and there’s not a corrective exercise program in the world that could change that.

The fact is, when it comes to using corrective exercise and functional movement testing – We must be able to separate the structural issues form the mechanical one’s.

Mechanical dysfunctions can often be changed and reversed. However, structural changes cannot.

So, the next time your corrective exercise program doesn’t seem to be helping to “correct” anything. Don’t get frustrated.  You may be dealing with a structural issue that’s beyond anything anyone can help. Just be smart; work around the problem and you’ll be fine!