As we’ve talked about on the blog before, excess weight can lead to extra stress on your spine. Over time, this can lead to problems like degenerative disc disease or herniated discs. Getting to a more manageable weight can help take some stress off your spine, but new findings suggest we might be able to take spine health another step further.
According to a new study, despite the stress exerted on our spine when we run, jogging and running can actually help to strength our spine and its surrounding structures.
Running And Your Spine
The study, which was based out of Deakin University in Australia, sought to uncover the impact, be it positive or negative, that running had on our spinal disc health. Previous research had suggested that our intervertebral discs were a “slow tissue” that were believed to take much longer to reap the benefits of exercise compared to other structures, like muscles.
“Prior research in the last decade had shown that the IVD components are replaced extremely slowly, leading researchers to think it would take longer than the average human lifespan to have an impact on the disc with interventions like exercise or medication,” explained lead researcher Associate Professor Daniel Belavy. “However, in this study we have been able to show that regular physical activity, such as jogging, can actually strengthen the IVD.
For their study researchers, looked at the the spinal discs of self-reported runners and a control group. What they found was that individuals who jogged or ran had stronger spinal discs. Interestingly, researchers found that just finding time to do some extra walking might be enough to improve disc health.
“Our findings showed no difference between joggers and long-distance runners and, in fact, indicated that walking might be enough,” said Belavy. “Even going got a walk during a break at work, or choosing to take the stairs rather than the elevators is good for the discs, as well as for overall back health.”
It is important that you take care of your spine while you’re young to ensure it remains healthy into your golden years. By actively working to strengthen spinal muscles and discs in your teens, 20’s and 30’s, you will put yourself on track to have a healthy back later in life. And if your younger years have already passed you by, there’s still plenty of things you can do to improve your spine health. Simply strive to run, jog or walk more, and you should notice an improvement in your back health!
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