Do spinal discs respond to exercise?
In truth, the evidence of the affect of exercise on spinal disc composition is limited. Studies on animals suggest a positive adaptation of discs to activity but until more recently it has not been replicated in humans. We know that exercise is great for our spines and the body in general. That it can really help our well-being, resolve pain and work as preventative measure for a whole host of conditions. But what happens to our discs when we run? Not only run – but run lots?
Running and the disc
In 2017 the results a study by Belavy et al discovered that long distance runners (50km + a week) and joggers (20-40km per week) had significantly larger spinal discs than their non-running study counterparts. In other words running results in hydration and hypertrophy of the disc… i.e strengthens it! The increase is particularly obvious in the central nucleus and anterior parts of the disc. These changes are also significant.
Does not wear out the spine?
So the narrative we often hear that the spine is worn out by too much exercise does not hold true! In fact this type of regular exercise and impact is the very thing that strengthens it. Might even make you taller… although maybe not.
Interestingly this scenario is repeated elsewhere in the body. So it’s great news for all those runners out there. And if you’re not a runner but would like to get started there are many different programs out there to help.