Studies Shows that Intervertebral Discs can Benefit from Running
While certain sports, such as golf, have been considered to have damaging effects to the spine due to the constant flexion and torsion motions, other activities may actually be beneficial to the health of your spinal discs.
It’s been argued that running is associated with disc degeneration due to the repetitive high-impact to the spine. However, new research confirmed that your intervertebral discs might actually be strengthened from habitual running.
Intervertebral discs are the shock- absorbing gel in between your spinal vertebra (shown in magenta). They also protect the nerves that run down the middle of the spine. When degeneration occurs, the discs lose their height and can press on nerves causing chronic pain.
In the study, the quality of the discs were measured (both men and women) and compared between those who regularly run and those who are healthy, but inactive. Not only do runners show healthier intervertebral disc composition compared to inactive individuals, but this effect was most marked at the lower back where many people developed degeneration and pain.
The bottom line? Listen to your body! If running doesn’t hurt, it’s most likely a good exercise choice for you. I like to recommend cross-training to keep all parts of your body limber and mobile.