Maintaining Intervertebral Spinal Disc Health
Life is about finding balance and health-homeostasis. Spinal discs also need to be kept in fluid equilibrium, ‘Disc Hydrostasis’. Unfortunately, our lifestyles today put unreasonable stresses on our bodies in many ways, and our sedentary lifestyles, tension and stress coupled with extreme exertions also place further strain on our spinal discs.
Normal disc function – Disc Hydrostasis or Imbibition
Fluid moves in and out of the disc, a natural healthy process to help keep the discs flexible and responsive with tensile and ductile strength; healthy discs have the ability to stretch and deform under stress, but to return to normal without being strained. Spinal discs have no direct blood supply, so they need to absorb the nutrients by changes in pressure, and through a process called ‘imbibition’ – the absorbance of fluids by a solid matter.
The lubrication process occurs by a sort of flushing mechanism, when load is applied and then removed from the tissue repeatedly. Activities that involve repeated smooth joint movement, such as stationary cycling and walking, can promote this lubrication process without creating too much stress on injured cartilage tissue.
Vary activities and keep active for healthy discs!
The key message here is that we need to avoid sitting too long. Vary your activities, rest your back lying down sometime during the day if possible, avoid slouching, and exercise gently and regularly. I cannot stress this enough.