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New Research Finds Walking And Running Can Improve Spinal Health

Men and Women Running and Walking in Activewear

A new study in Nature Research Journal Scientific Reports has found for the first time that there is a positive link between exercise and a stronger, healthier spine.

"Running exercise in men and women is associated with better IVD [intervertebral disc] composition" says lead author Daniel L. Belavý of Deakin University, Australia. "We further find that accelerations at fast walking and slow running (2 m/s), but not high-impact tasks, lower intensity walking or static positions, correlated to positive IVD characteristics." This means that a brisk walk or gentle jog really can improve the health and strength of your spine and help to prevent degenerative issues later in life. This groundbreaking research is important as there was previously no evidence to support the claim that exercise can improve the quality of the intervertebral discs in the spine.

Intervertebral discs, or IVD, act to absorb shock in the spine as well as maintaining its alignment and allowing for free movement in the back. Whenever you twist, stretch, and turn, your IVD are working hard to keep your back and spine moving well. It was previously thought that high impact exercise like running would eventually cause wear and tear to the intervertebral discs thereby damaging them, so this new research shows an important enlightenment.

The results of the study found that long-distance runners and joggers had healthier IVD tissue than non-exercisers. The long-distance runners showed slightly improved results than the casual joggers, but not much. So your daily or weekend jog is still important!

This research has important implications for spinal health in relation to exercise and the guidelines set out for patients with spinal pain. "IVD degeneration and herniation is one important contributing factor to spinal pain. Knowing that the IVD can respond to certain kinds of loading, and understanding what kinds of loading are optimal, will result in better exercise guidelines for the prevention and management of spinal pain." State the authors of the paper. What this means is that as damage to the IVD is one of the biggest reasons for spinal pain, knowing that exercise can benefit back pain sufferers and reduce their pain means it's important to set out exercise guidelines for their rehabilitation and recovery.

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