Tom Willemann Health Tips

"Regular Health Tips From Physical Therapist Tom Willemann..."

Use the Form Below to Get Them All Sent to You for FREE

Does Running Cause Disc Problems?


Recent Studies Show Running and Exercise May Actually Strengthen the Intervertebral Disc 

A recent study looked at the lumbar disc problems,  Intervertebral Discs (IVDs) in people that were runners for greater than five years and also ran more than 50+ kilometers per week (long distance runners). The intervertebral discs act as shock absorbents between each of the vertebrae in the spinal column by keeping the vertebrae separated when there is impact from activity, like running.

When they observed these individuals, they noticed their intervertebral disc sizes were proportionally greater than the non-athletic group; this was found across the lower lumbar spine. None of the participants in the study had a history of current or past spinal problems.
The actual lower lumbar intervertebral discs, which are more prone to degeneration in the normal population, had an increased size compared to similarly sized individuals. These hypertrophy changes are noted in the body in response to loads in muscle and bone. In the bone, they referred to it as Wolf’s Law, which refers to an increase in bone density as the relative loads increase in the body.
construction workerAn example of this is noted in construction workers and people that typically carry heavy loads as part of their occupation; they tend to have greater sized bones in response to those greater demands. If the demands occurred too rapidly, you can experience stress fractures in the same bones.
This is often seen in runners who increase their distance too rapidly for the body to adapt to the increased distance and loads.
Check out what I have to say about disc problems in the video below and sign up for my YouTube channel to learn a bunch of other tips that will help you move better!

My goal in bringing this up is to make you aware that our bodies can adapt to many things. In this recent study, it appears that in the case of the lumbar disc, it actually increases the size to accommodate the running demands.

So, go out and enjoy your running! The next time someone tells you that running might be hurting your back, just tell him or her to talk to me! LOL!

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann is a premier physical therapist based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. He holds an MS in physical therapy from the University of Miami, is credentialed in the world-renowned McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), and holds an OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) certification. As of 2018, there are approximately 14,000 ABPTS certified specialists in the nation and less than 400 of them are located in the state of New Jersey. Tom is the owner and director of Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus. He opened the clinic, which specializes in spine and sports injury prevention, in 2004 after many years of experience in the field. Tom’s caring interest in others and his strong belief in continuity of care, combined with his clinic’s ability to find solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems, have earned Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation its excellent reputation with patients and medical professionals in northeastern New Jersey and beyond. A true “family man,” Tom takes pride in his clinic’s warm and welcoming environment.
Share This