The spinal column is made of bones called vertebrae, soft cushioning discs that act as shock absorbers and strong, heavy ligaments that add form and stability. Attached to the spine are many muscles that give strength and movement to the spine. The spine houses the spinal cord and spinal nerves that carry information to the entire body. The spine is a complex structure designed to move and is susceptible to dysfunction. When the spine becomes misaligned, it can affect function in a variety of ways. There are several key signs that your spine, or the supporting structures, may be out of alignment.
Under normal circumstances, both legs are the same length. Discrepancy in the length of the legs is a sign of some dysfunction in the lumbar spine or the pelvis and most chiropractors will check for this when diagnosing your spinal function. When the sacroiliac joints or the lumbar joints are not properly functioning, they can give the appearance that one leg is shorter than the other by up to an inch. Correction of the spinal alignment will reverse the discrepancy.
Checking the wear on the heels of your shoes may provide a clue as to how well your spine is aligned. When the lumbar spine or pelvis is out of alignment your body will compensate and put additional stress in other places, which can cause you to walk differently. Over time you may find that one heel wears differently than the other due to poor funtion in the spine.
If you have access to multiple bathroom scales you can put two side by side and put one foot on each. Your body weight should be evenly distributed between the feet when standing up straight. If the scales reveal that you are leaning to one side, it may be due to a misalignment in the spine causing your hips, head or shoulders to be off center.
Range of Motion
If you find that your ability to fully move your head or back is diminished, you very likely have some dysfunction in the spine and and may find that the vertebrae are not in proper alignment. Many people do not notice that they have lost range of motion until it is detected by a physician or therapist who is looking for it. Proper flexibility is important to keep the spine healthy.
You can check your posture by looking in a mirror, standing up straight and marking on the mirror the bottom of your earlobes, the points of your shoulders, and the tops of your hips, knees and ankles. Then stand back from the mirror and see if they are balanced from side to side. Is one shoulder or hip higher than the other? Does one foot flare out to the side? You should check your posture from the side as well as from the front and if your posture is not properly balanced, you likely have spinal joints that are not aligned.