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Sports Med. 2016 Apr;46(4):473-85. doi: 10.1007/s40279-015-0444-2.

Can Exercise Positively Influence the Intervertebral Disc?

Author information

1
Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC, 3125, Australia. belavy@gmail.com.
2
Institute of Biomechanics and Orthopedics, German Sport University Cologne, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933, Cologne, Germany.
3
Cologne Center for Musculoskeletal Biomechanics, Medical Faculty, University Hospital of Cologne, 50924, Cologne, Germany.
4
Department of Human Movement Sciences, MOVE Research Institute Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, van der Boechorststraat 9, 1081 BT, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
5
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1117, PO Box 7057, 1007 MB, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

To better understand what kinds of sports and exercise could be beneficial for the intervertebral disc (IVD), we performed a review to synthesise the literature on IVD adaptation with loading and exercise. The state of the literature did not permit a systematic review; therefore, we performed a narrative review. The majority of the available data come from cell or whole-disc loading models and animal exercise models. However, some studies have examined the impact of specific sports on IVD degeneration in humans and acute exercise on disc size. Based on the data available in the literature, loading types that are likely beneficial to the IVD are dynamic, axial, at slow to moderate movement speeds, and of a magnitude experienced in walking and jogging. Static loading, torsional loading, flexion with compression, rapid loading, high-impact loading and explosive tasks are likely detrimental for the IVD. Reduced physical activity and disuse appear to be detrimental for the IVD. We also consider the impact of genetics and the likelihood of a 'critical period' for the effect of exercise in IVD development. The current review summarises the literature to increase awareness amongst exercise, rehabilitation and ergonomic professionals regarding IVD health and provides recommendations on future directions in research.

PMID:
26666742
DOI:
10.1007/s40279-015-0444-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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