The vertebral column provides structural support for the trunk and surrounds and protects the spinal cord. The vertebral column also provides attachment points for the muscles of the back and ribs. The vertebral disks serve as shock absorbers during activities such as walking, running, and jumping. They also allow the spine to flex and extend.
Review Date: 4/16/2013 Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.