Some recent studies have shown that there is a close link between the health of your spinal discs and movement. People that run regularly or walk briskly appear to have healthier discs in their spines than people who don’t do any exercise.

These recent findings tell us the opposite of what has been commonly believed until now: that exercises, like running might overload your spine, instead, they may make it stronger.

Your spine consists of the bony vertebrae situated between your intervertebral or spinal discs. Your spinal discs, act like mini shock absorbers as they contain a gelatinous fluid that absorbs the pressure during movement or exercise.

As we age or sustain a back injury, your spinal discs can degenerate (small cracks appear in the outer fibrous layers of your disc) and bulge – often leaking out the gelatinous interior of the disc. Sometimes the disc bulges/disc prolapses/disc herniation’s in your back pain can lead to back pain.

Until more recently, scientists and clinical specialists thought that you couldn’t strengthen spinal discs. Your muscles and your bones tend to respond to movement and exercise by increasing in size and getting stronger.

The recent study, undertaken by Deakin University also revealed that running distance did not matter. In other words, running for longer distances did not further improve disc health but nor did it contribute to further disc degeneration.

An interesting finding was that the ideal physical effort to improve disc health through movement was somewhere between a brisk walk and a gentle jog.

The study doesn’t prove that exercise will improve a person’s discs to be healthier – it does tell us though that people who participated in the study who ran had healthier discs. Which is great news.


The scientific evidence is there – At City Physio Adelaide our Physiotherapists know that your back likes movement and we advocate movement in our treatment approach to back pain and treatment of disc prolapse/bulging discs or degenerated discs. So, get out of the office and go outside in the sunshine or on the treadmill and take your back for a brisk walk or a gentle jog today.

If you are suffering from spinal disc degeneration, disc bulge or back pain, please come and seek our professional opinion and assessment of your condition so that the appropriate treatment approach to your spine and back pain can be implemented. Our hands on approach to you back pain will get you back on track in the earliest possible time frame.