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Author Topic: Why Running May Be Good for Your Back  (Read 934 times)

mouser

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Why Running May Be Good for Your Back
« on: June 08, 2017, 08:31 AM »
From the NY Times today:
Why Running May Be Good for Your Back
https://www.nytimes....d-for-your-back.html

"People who regularly run or walk briskly appear to have healthier discs in their spines than people who do not exercise, according to one of the first studies to closely examine links between movement and disc health. The findings refute a widely held belief that activities like running might overtax the spine and indicate that, instead, they make it sturdier."

Over the years I have experienced periods with lower back pain issues, and running has seemed to help.  This seems completely counter-intuitive to me, but maybe there is some science behind it..

dr_andus

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Re: Why Running May Be Good for Your Back
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2017, 09:23 AM »
Considering that it's only been a tiny fraction of human history where humans led sedentary lifestyles, maybe it makes sense that "motion is lotion," as they say.

But it also could be that cause and effect are reversed and it's the ones with healthy spines that are not put off from running...

Deozaan

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Re: Why Running May Be Good for Your Back
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2017, 03:02 PM »
It makes sense to me, following this logic:

Our bodies have ways of coping with frequent, repeating stressors. For example, our hands and feet develop calluses to protect them from wear and tear. Many minor "injuries" lead to the hands becoming hardened and more resistant to the effects. But people who don't use their hands in such a way don't develop these calluses.

I'd guess it's a similar thing with our backs. If you run regularly, you repeatedly and frequently "injure" your back in minor ways, so the body compensates by making stronger discs, etc.

Along with the "motion is lotion" saying could be added: "If you don't use it, you lose it."

tomos

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Re: Why Running May Be Good for Your Back
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2017, 03:50 PM »
It makes sense to me, following this logic:

Our bodies have ways of coping with frequent, repeating stressors. For example, our hands and feet develop calluses to protect them from wear and tear. Many minor "injuries" lead to the hands becoming hardened and more resistant to the effects. But people who don't use their hands in such a way don't develop these calluses.

I'd guess it's a similar thing with our backs. If you run regularly, you repeatedly and frequently "injure" your back in minor ways, so the body compensates by making stronger discs, etc.

Along with the "motion is lotion" saying could be added: "If you don't use it, you lose it."

I dont know that the back works that way -- if you damage between the vertebrae or the vertebrae themselves, they dont recover well.

I could imagine the way it helps is through use of the back and stomach muscles when running - these hold the back straighter; they also lengthen the back, which leads to the vertebrae being further apart from each other, so they and all between them doesn't get damaged.

EDIT// which ties in with the 'Gokhale method' which I still follow: one of the core ideas is to keep the back straight and lengthened. It hurts me to see my niece (age 11) who used to naturally sit so beautifully straight -- she now slumps when sitting in almost a half-circle curve...
Tom

Shades

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Re: Why Running May Be Good for Your Back
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2017, 12:59 AM »
I was always told (in the military) that traing your abdomen is also a good way to prevent all kinds of back pains. This, because the muscles in the abdomen can then take over from sore muscles in the back. From that point of view, it wouldn't be too big a jump that those front muscles also keep discs further apart and relieve that type of pain.

Sit-ups (done properly!) is usually the easiest accessible method, but if you have the option, take up swimming in Olympic size (or half-sized) swimming pools. Or much smaller swimming pools which have a system in place that generates a variable current. The same concept as a treadmill for running.

Swimming is good as it provides a full body workout, but without the impact on the joints you use for running. Your buoyancy relieves much stress on painful joints and Swimming builds up muscles, which relieve pain even more. 100 Meters swimming should compare to a brisk walk of 2 kilometers or 5 kilometers of cycling at normal speeds. In a pool of sufficient size it hardly matters if you "cheat" by using your legs to push you off.

I have met lots of competition swimmers and water polo players. None of them complained of back pains and even in later stages of life, most were able to keep up their youthful physique. Just saying that swimming is a good way to keep the whole body in shape, without putting stress on your joints.