Spinal Disc Health

There are 24 spinal vertebra and 23 spinal discs between those bones. The outer layer of the disc is fibrous and thick (annulus fibrosus) while the inner layer has the consistency of toothpaste (nucleus pulposus).

When a disc herniates, a tear in the outer layer allows the inner nucleus to squeeze out, and in some cases, put pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots. This can cause pain and always decreases brain to body connection.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the impact of sitting on the spine. It has been called the “new smoking”, meaning that we’re just starting to understand the long term health consequences of prolonged sitting.

Studies have been done to test the amount of pressure placed on the discs of the lower back. Disc pressure and stress on the lumbar spine are lowest when lying on your back – 25 kg. These stresses increase when you change to lying on your side; this disc pressure is measured at approximately 75 kg. Standing upright produces 100 kg of pressure, leaning forward from the standing position the pressure increases to 150 kg. Holding a weight and leaning forward in the standing position causes this pressure to further rise to 220 kg! Sitting upright will place 140 kg of pressure on the lumbar disc. Leaning forward from this position then raises the pressure to 185 kg!

So what’s the moral of the story? Same as always…movement is life. Sitting upright puts 40% more pressure on your lower back than standing and leaning forward while sitting puts 85% more pressure on you spine. Use a standing desk when you can. Make excuses to get up and move. Take a break and walk around for a few minutes while taking long drives. If you have to sit, rock your lower back front to back, side to side and SIT UP STRAIGHT!


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