Running isn’t everybody’s favorite activity. Whether you’re an early riser or a night owl, a student or a business owner, it can sometimes be difficult to find time within the daily grind to go for a jog. But, if you can find at least 15 to 30 minutes a day to do so, you may be greatly benefiting not only your cardiovascular health, but your mental health and even the health of your spine.

That’s right. While it had previously been widely believed that running and other exercise had no way to positively affect the spine itself due to the slow metabolism of intervertebral discs and their inability to respond anabolically to exercise within the human lifespan, that may no longer be the case.

A new study by Daniel L. Belavy, which was published by Scientific Reports, indicates that actually routine running can lead to more hydration and better overall health within those intervertebral discs. For a quick refresher from anatomy class, the intervertebral discs are mini “shock absorbers” located between each of the vertebrae in your spinal column. They are what keep the vertebrae separated whenever the spine experiences impact, such as during exercise or other activity.

Poor health in or injuries to these intervertebral discs can result in herniation, also known as a very painful condition known as a slipped or bulging disc. These intervertebral discs can also become degenerated over time or contribute to scoliosis and an improper curve to the spine. So, with that being said, it’s obvious that the health of our intervertebral discs is critical to the overall health of our spine and body. For the first time, it’s now believed that the simple act of running on a regular basis may help. Let’s take a look.

Running For Your Spine: The Study

The basic summary of Professor Belavy’s new study, which was published in April of 2017, states that regular exercise including running, jogging, or even regular walking can improve overall back health by promoting hydration within the intervertebral discs.

While the study states that more rigorous long-distance runs showed a greater difference in some areas of IVD health, there was no significant difference between them and a regular light jog. The study also indicates that simple acts like going for a walk or taking the stairs at work can be beneficial to the health of one’s spine and decrease things like bulging discs or chronic back pain.

The conclusion of the study indicated that their findings could lead to further guidance on what activities and measures can be taken to improve the health of the intervertebral discs and prevent future hindrances like chronic back pain, particularly in the lower back, which has been known to be a problem area, in active individuals.

To put this in more simple terms: Running, jogging, and even walking on a regular basis can be an effective form of back pain management, preventing and possibly in some cases treating back pain and improving overall spinal health.

Running leads to more hydration in the intervertebral discs, which leads to stronger intervertebral discs, which leads to better back health and lower risk for degeneration.
After all these years of believing exercise had no effect on the slow-metabolism of these discs, who would have thunk it?

Running For Your Soul: The Benefits

Of course, there are many more benefits to running than just pain management and spinal health. Running is one of the best forms of exercise you can do if you’re looking to raise your overall health, from improving your cholesterol to improving lung health and function to improving heart health. It’s also a great way to lose weight, maintain weight, and burn calories. And of course, you know the old saying: Look good, feel good. Running and exercise in general is a great way to boost confidence, self-esteem, and relieve stress. When you set and achieve physical goals, whether it be running one mile or conquering an entire marathon, you benefit from a sense of self-satisfaction and empowerment which can carry over into all aspects of your life. And yes, there are more scientific benefits to running as well.

Have you ever experienced a “Runner’s High?” Better than any drug on the market, running is known to release positive endorphins in your brain that can contribute to energy, alertness, and even happiness. You can experience a great boost of confidence, feel a sense of community with other runners, and get yourself into better shape for whatever challenges life throws at you – physical or mental. With all of these benefits (and more), we should all be hard-pressed to find any excuse not to run, jog, or walk whenever we have a free chunk of time.

Running to LifeWorks: We Can Help

Of course, you can also improve your happiness and general well-being, including effective, efficient back pain management by making regular visits to a chiropractor. Our experienced doctors at LifeWorks Integrative Health in Shawnee are always looking for the root cause of your back pain, neck pain, knee pain, or other conditions, so you can rest assured that you will be receiving customized care that will also benefit your long-term health. We’re all about providing functional medicine solutions combined with a physical medicine touch, which may include natural pain management solutions like chiropractic care, physical rehab (hey, we may even suggest going for a run or walk to strengthen your back), and trigger point injections. Now, LifeWorks Integrative Health features two locations – in Shawnee and Overland Park – to better serve the Kansas City area. We’ll never send you out the door with an unnecessary prescription or surgery recommendation. Instead, we’ll work with you to determine the root cause of your condition, whether it be pain and mobility or an underlying chronic condition like diabetes or hypothyroidism.

Our goal is to bring you back to health so your body can function as optimally as it was designed to, allowing you to live the full and happy life you dream of. Give us a call at either one of our all-encompassing wellness centers to learn more about how we can help you.