Spine: the isolated spine is an unstable structure. It has a critical buckling load of around 350N, roughly the weight of head and upper torso. Yet the spine does not collapse, due to the stabilising role of the spinal muscles. 

Spinal ligaments are viscoelastic and loading rate sensitive. This allows effortless spinal movement in physiological range but provides a very rigid structure against high loading. 

Vertebral bodies support the weight and gradually increase in bulk as we go down. They are made of a thick cortical shell filled with cancellous bone. The cancellous trabeculae are oriented in both vertical as well as transverse directions to resist multi-directional compression. Cancellous bone resists compressive load and cortical shell provides stiffness against torsional and bending load. This composite structure is best suited to keep weight at the minimum while resisting loads from different directions. 

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