Posted on Apr 26, 2017, 6 a.m.
For the first time, research has shown that a particular exercise is good for the discs in the spine.
In the first human study of its kind, researchers have shown evidence that a specific physical exercise is beneficial for the discs in our spines. The study named "Running exercise strengthens the intervertebral disc" has been published in the journal Scientific Reports, and according to lead author Professor Daniel Belavy, it is considered a milestone in the spinal research field.
Conventional thinking among scientists was that spinal discs were not able to respond to any kind of exercises due to the slow metabolism of intervertebral disks. The new study is giving hope that physical activity can be prescribed as a remedy to strengthen spinal disks. This is especially true for younger people as exercise can be used as a preventative measure or treatment of back problems throughout one's life.
Over the last decade, research has shown that the components of spinal disks are repaired very slowly which led researchers to expect that either drugs or exercise would have no real impact over a person's lifetime. This study has shown that regular exercise including walking, running, or jogging does strengthen discs in the spine and improve overall back health.
According to Professor Belavy, their study did not find any greater benefit from more rigorous exercise like long distance running, and that regular walking may be just as beneficial to the spine. Furthermore, he suggests people should avoid long static postures while sitting or standing, and taking every opportunity to exercise during work time breaks such as choosing the stairs instead of the elevator.
The new study has challenged the notion that spinal disks take too long to respond to exercise. This has provided a starting point to develop effective physical activity protocols for strengthening intervertebral discs thus promoting a healthy back throughout our lives.
More information: Daniel L. Belavý et al. Running exercise strengthens the intervertebral disc, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/srep45975