This easy-to-understand chapter will help you to a better appreciation of the wonderful benefits of Spencer Supports.

The chapter describes only those parts of the body directly concerned with supports—abdominal organs, breasts and bony structure.   Chapter 12 describes some of the physical ailments which Spencer Supports help correct.   In these chapters and throughout the book technical terms have been used only when absolutely necessary.   The Glossary (page 268) gives simple definitions.   They are easy to learn, pronounce, and understand.

The Technical Department at Banbury is always glad to furnish any additional information you may need regarding special cases. Write for information you are unable to find in this book.

The Ventral Cavity

Fig. 138
The Ventral Cavity

The ventral cavity (see Fig. 138) is composed of the thoracic cavity, the abdominal cavity and the pelvic cavity.   The thoracic and abdominal cavities are separated by the diaphragm, but the pelvic cavity is the lower part of the abdominal cavity and is not separated from it.

The Thoracic Cavity

The thoracic cavity (see Fig. 138) contains the heart and lungs.

The Abdomen and the Abdominal Cavity

The abdomen is that portion of the body which lies between the thorax and the pelvis.

The abdominal cavity (see Fig. 138) is the largest of the great cavities of the body.   It is closed at the top and separated from the thoracic cavity by a muscle known as the diaphragm.   The front wall of the abdominal cavity consists of the lower ribs and four layers of muscles.   The back wall consists of the lower ribs, spine, and muscles of the back.   The bottom is formed by the floor of the pelvis.   The abdominal cavity contains the stomach, intestines, liver, spleen, and other organs.   It is lined with a membrane called the peritoneum.   The lower part of the abdominal cavity is called the pelvic cavity and contains part of the abdominal organs.   There is no separation between the abdominal cavity and the pelvic cavity.   The line in Figure 138 merely indicates the location.


The diaphragm is a thin, dome-shaped sheath of muscle separating the thoracic and abdominal cavities. Its action is to assist in respiration, circulation and in expulsive acts. When people gain weight, excess flesh commonly forms at the waist-line at front, and above the waistline. This flesh we call "diaphragm flesh," and the word "diaphragm" on the order form actually refers to this part of the figure.

Contents of the Abdominal and Pelvic Cavities

Alimentary Canal.   The alimentary canal, with the exception of the mouth and esophagus, is situated in the abdominal and pelvic cavities.   The alimentary canal and certain glands compose the digestive organs.   The stomach and intestines form a part of the alimentary canal.

Stomach.   The stomach (see Fig. 139) is a bag-shaped organ lying immediately below the diaphragm, with an opening at the top through which food enters and another at the bottom through which the food passes on to the intestines.

Small Intestine.   Food leaving the stomach passes on to the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine.   The small intestine (see Fig. 139) is about twenty feet long and lies in coils occupying the middle and lower part of the abdomen.   It ends in the large intestine.

Large Intestine (Colon).   The large intestine, or colon (see Fig. 139) runs upward on the right side to the level of the stomach.   This section is known as the ascending colon.   The colon then makes a sharp turn, crossing just below the stomach.   This section is called the transverse colon.   The colon then turns abruptly downward.   This section is called the descending colon.   Finally, after making a double curve, it ends in the rectum which is situated slightly to the left in front of the sacrum.

Bladder.   For all practical purposes it may be assumed that the bladder (see Fig. 139) lies about on a level with the pubic bone, toward the front of the pelvic cavity:

Vermiform Appendix.   The vermiform appendix (see Fig. 139), is a small, worm-like tube running from the lower section of the ascending colon.   (When a surgeon performs a simple appendix operation, the incision is usually made in the lower part of the abdomen on the right side).

Liver.   The liver (see Fig. 139) occupies the upper part of the abdomen, at the right of the stomach and immediately under the diaphragm.   The lower part of the liver lies over and is in contact with some of the intestines.

Fig. 139

Gall Bladder.   The gall bladder (see Fig. 139) is attached to the under surface of the liver.

Kidneys.   The kidneys (not shown in drawing) are located in the abdominal cavity on each side of the spinal column and behind the peritoneum.   They are fleshy organs which separate waste products from the blood and excrete them in the form of urine.   They are bean-shaped, about 4 inches long from top to bottom, 22 inches wide, and 1 inch thick.   The lower ends of the kidneys are about on a line with the navel.   Each kidney is normally surrounded by fat and tissue which helps to hold it in proper position (see "Movable Kidney," page 178, under "Nephroptosis.")

Uterus (The Womb).   The uterus (not shown in drawing) is situated in the pelvic cavity, between the bladder and the rectum.   It is held in place by ligaments.   Under certain conditions these ligaments become relaxed, allowing the uterus to become misplaced.

The various organs in the abdominal cavity are dependent for their proper position upon various muscles and upon each other. Thus, if one organ becomes displaced, others are likely to be affected.

Abdominal Muscles

There is no bony structure in the front wall of the abdomen.   There is, however, a very strong muscular wall formed by four layers of muscle running in different directions, all crossing each other and joining from top to bottom in the centre of the front (see Fig. 140).

Fig. 140

Transversus Abdominis.   The transversus abdominis is the innermost of the flat abdominal muscles.   It extends from the breast bone to the pubic bone and across the entire abdomen.   Its action is to compress the viscera and flex the thorax (see Fig. 140).

Internal Oblique Muscles.   The internal oblique muscles start from the hip, groin and lumbar area.   They extend upward and forward and fasten to the lower ribs and crest of the pubic bone.   They join with each other from top to bottom in the centre of the front, Their action is to compress the abdomen, flex the thorax, and aid in exhaling (see Fig. 140).

External Oblique Muscles.   The external oblique muscles, the outer layer of abdominal muscles, are the largest of these muscles.   They run from the lower ribs forward and downward.   These muscles compress the viscera, flex the thorax, and aid in the act of excretion (see Fig. 140).

Rectus Abdominis.   This muscle extends from the lower ribs down to the pubic bone, covering a bit more than the front third of the abdominal cavity (see Fig. 140).   Its action is to compress the abdomen and flex the body.

The action of the abdominal muscles and of the diaphragm is directly opposite.   Normally, when the diaphragm contracts, the abdominal muscles relax and elongate to accommodate the compressed viscera.   When the diaphragm relaxes, contraction of the abdominal muscles lifts the viscera upward against the dome of the diaphragm.

These four layers of muscles are largely responsible for the support of the abdomen. It can easily be seen that any stretching or sagging of these muscles will allow the organs in the abdominal cavity to sag.

Fat and Skin.   Over these abdominal muscles, there is a layer of fat and then the skin (see Fig. 140).

An Important Abdominal Circulatory System

There is a great vein-the portal vein-connected with a network of smaller blood vessels, which carries blood to the liver from the stomach, intestines, and spleen.   The blood undergoes changes in the liver which prepare it for transmission to the heart and lungs.   As we draw air into our lungs, the oxygen from the air modifies the composition of the blood and it is then sent throughout the body to nourish tissues and sustain life.

This network of blood vessels which carries the blood to the liver from the stomach, intestines, and spleen is so large that it is capable of holding a great portion of all the blood in the body.

Fig. 141

When the pressure of the abdominal muscles is normal, the pressure on these blood vessels prevents them from retaining too much blood.   Thus we have a reservoir automatically controlled by the abdominal muscles.

One famous doctor has described the organs of the abdominal cavity "as hanging dependently from the spine like a coat on a hook."   In Figure 141, notice how little support the organs of the abdomen receive.   Actually, they do seem to "hang" from the spinal "hook."

Faulty posture often interferes with the normal action of the abdominal muscles or causes them to weaken to the extent that they do not properly control or hold in place the contents of the abdomen.   As a result, when the abdominal muscles are too weak to maintain a proper pressure, there is a pooling of excess blood in the veins of the abdominal region.

Many doctors believe that this condition is a direct cause of functional indigestion and many other ills. This congestion (accumulation of blood) often leads to intestinal stasis—a clogging of intestines commonly known as constipation—to headache and other chronic disorders.

Proper support as provided by Spencer Supports helps to correct posture, support the abdomen, and prevent these conditions.

The Breasts

The scientific name for the breasts is mammae or mammary glands.   Their weight and dimensions differ in individuals and at different periods of life.   While small before puberty, they enlarge as the generative organs become more completely developed.   They increase in size during pregnancy and especially after delivery.   They secrete the milk and are accessory glands of the generative system.   They tend to become wasted away in old age.   The left breast is often a little larger than the right.   Breasts are supplied with extremely sensitive nerves and, during the menstrual period, the breasts often swell and become tense and tender.

The Bony Structure

(see Figs. 142, 143, 144 and 145).

The Spine. The spine, commonly called the backbone (see Fig. 142), is composed of twenty-six bones-twenty-four vertebrae, the sacrum and the coccyx.   The spine is a flexible column, supported entirely by muscles and ligaments.   Moving downward from the head, the first vertebrae are relatively small but gradually become larger toward the lower part of the spinal column.   The vertebrae are separated and cushioned by resilient discs of fibrous cartilage, called intervertebral discs.   These discs are not solid but are filled with a cushioning pulp called nucleus pulposus. Flexibility of the spinal column decreases as the vertebrae increase in size.

Because the nerves go right down through the spinal column, any derangement of it affects them. This may result in anything from a "tired" back or a general feeling of nervousness, to severe and even crippling back pain.

Cervical, Thoracic or Dorsal, and Lumbar Vertebrae.   The first seven vertebrae, starting at the top, are called the cervical vertebrae and form the neck.   The next twelve to which the ribs (see Fig. 142) are attached, are the thoracic or dorsal vertebrae.   The next five are the lumbar vertebrae.   The lumbar vertebrae are located in that part of the back known as the "small" of the back or, in medical terms, the lumbar region.

Sacrum.   Below the lumbar vertebrae is the sacrum (see Fig. 142) which, while solid in adults, at a very early age consists of five distinct bones.

Coccyx.   Below the sacrum is the coccyx (see Fig. 142).

Fig. 142
Fig. 143
Front View

Hipbones or Innominate Bones. On either side of the sacrum and joined to it by the short, very strong sacroiliac ligaments are the two hipbones or innominate bones.   The broad upper part of the hipbone is called the ilium.   The top part of the hipbone or that part directly below the waistline is called the crest of the ilium. The part of the hipbone which is often so prominent in the front near the abdomen (see Fig. 143) is called the anterior superior spine of the ilium.   This condition is referred to in this book as "prominent hipbones."

That part of the hipbones which is in the lower part of the back and supports the body when sitting is the ischium (see Fig. 143).

Fig. 144
Back View

Pelvis.   The pelvis is the heavy, bony framework made up of four bones, namely the sacrum and coccyx at back, and the hipbones on either side which meet in front forming the pubis or pubic bone (see Fig. 143).   The pelvis is the heaviest and strongest bony structure in the body.   Study it carefully because it is referred to frequently in this book.

Fig. 145
Side View

Physical conditions which are relieved by spencer supports