In our last blog article we looked at a little bit of evidence suggesting running is good for your joints. Is this the same for our lower back?  The most common lower back injury is a strain to the intervertebral discs more commonly terms a “bulging disc”. In a bulging disc the fibres of the outside of the disc are torn allowing material from the inside of the disc protrudes. There is no evidence that running accelerates disc damage in lower backs, but there is some recent data to suggest that it might be capable of stimulating matrix production within the disc and possibly strengthening it. A paper in the journal SPINE examined rats that ran on a treadmill and noted that the intervertebral disc demonstrated an increase in cellularity and an increase in the expression of fibres that make up the disc, possibly suggesting that there might be some long-term benefits to this type of dynamic loading. Given also that running has been shown to increase, learning and memory in mice, we can see that preconceived notions of distance running being “bad for you” may well be misplaced. Brisby H, Wei AQ, Molloy T, Chung SA, Murrell GA, Diwan AD. The Effect of Running Exercise on Intervertebral Disc Extracellular Matrix Production in a Rat Model. SPINE 2010; 35 (15): pp 1429 –1436