Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Exercise and the lumbar spine

Having suffered from sciatica in the past, I can seriously assure you that I never want to have it again. It is a searing pain that shoots like a bolt of electricity down the back of your leg and into your foot. Even the strongest of painkillers only manage to dull  the pain, and their side effects of drowsiness and constipation often make sciatica sufferers reluctant to use them.

I underwent surgery to relieve the pain of my sciatica, and in the process lost a healthy chunk of one of my lumbar discs that had broken off and was pressing on the nerve - hence the severe pain! The good news is that I got over it all without complication and am now back jogging and cycling, but always at the back of my mind was the concern that exercise may not be helping my dodgy discs.

Well recent news out of the University of Gothenburg, presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine (ISSLS), strongly suggests that exercise is good for the cells in those discs, at least if your a rat on a treadmill!! They have shown that rats that exercise have healthier discs than those rats that were left to their own devices and just ran around their cages! The hope is that they can repeat their findings in humans.

So, for for all of those "rats" out there, the answer is that if you want a healthy lumbar spine, get back on the treadmill, it's doing you the world of good. As for me, well, I'm going for a jog when it stops raining!
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