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Battle of the Sexes: Are our Joints Different?

By Krista Elliott

Biology is an amazing topic. It's so interesting to see how our bodies have evolved and changed over time, adapting to our environment and our lifestyles, all to improve our odds of survival and good health. 

And one of the most interesting things is to see the biological differences between the human male and the human female. I'm not talking about the obvious differences. Those are interesting as well, of course. But did you know that the human male and human female are also different in ways that you never learned about in health ed class? 

I'm talking about our spine and joints. 

How Do Joints Differ Based on Sex?

So you're probably already aware that as a general rule, the female has a broader pelvis to help give birth to our large-headed infants. (This isn't an insult — human babies DO have enormous heads compared to other mammals). 

However, did you also know that our spines are different as well? 

In a new study from researchers at Harvard and the University of Texas at Austin, it was discovered that women's spines, in particular their lower spines, have evolved to have greater flexibility and support than men's. (Note that in this piece, I am referring to cisgender individuals). 

You might wonder why the human female spine would be different, and as it turns out, it also has to do with pregnancy. 

Humans are bipeds, meaning that we walk around on only two feet instead of four like most other mammals. This presents enough challenges already. But when you throw pregnancy into the mix, that's when things get tricky. The growing (and heavy) belly can quickly throw off the center of gravity, forcing the woman to arch her lower back in order to avoid toppling over. The curve of the lower spine (called the lordosis) is made up of two vertebrae in men ... but three vertebrae in women, allowing them greater flexibility and a better range of motion in the lower back. As well, the joints in the lordosis are larger in women than in men, improving the strength of the lower spine. 

Make no bones about it, evolutionary biology is not just interesting, it helps medical professionals gain a better understanding of the spine and exactly how it works. And it helps the chiropractic professionals at The Joint Chiropractic develop the techniques and expertise that they use to treat your spine and joints, helping to relieve your lower back pain and improving your mobility. To find out what they can do for your spine, contact The Joint today. 

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