Presented here is the conceptual basis for the assertion that the spinal stabilizing system consists of three subsystems. The vertebrae, discs, and ligaments constitute the passive subsystem. All muscles and tendons surrounding the spinal column that can apply forces to the spinal column constitute the active subsystem. The nerves and central nervous system comprise the neural subsystem, which determines the requirements for spinal stability by monitoring the various transducer signals, and directs the active subsystem to provide the needed stability. A dysfunction of a component of any one of the subsystems may lead to one or more of the following three possibilities: (a) an immediate response from other subsystems to successfully compensate, (b) a long-term adaptation response of one or more subsystems, and (c) an injury to one or more components of any subsystem. It is conceptualized that the first response results in normal function, the second results in normal function but with an altered spinal stabilizing system, and the third leads to overall system dysfunction, producing, for example, low back pain. In situations where additional loads or complex postures are anticipated, the neural control unit may alter the muscle recruitment strategy, with the temporary goal of enhancing the spine stability beyond the normal requirements.
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