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Column Movements That Protect Your Intervertebral Discs


Have you ever realized that it was easier to take your socks off at night than to put them on in the morning, or that you were taller in the morning?

This phenomenon occurs because the nucleus pulposus, located in the intervertebral disc, which acts as a cushion and contains approximately 88% water, in addition to a gel-like substance, decreases in volume between morning and nighttime.

What’s more, 54% of this decrease occurs within 30 minutes after waking up, and the water content returns when you go to bed.

As the moisture in the nucleus pulposus is reduced, additional space is created between the vertebrae, alleviating the stress on the surrounding ligaments.

Imagine the nucleus pulposus in the picture as a water balloon.

In the morning, the water-filled balloon is expanding the annulus fibrosus and surrounding ligaments.
If the spinal column remains bent in this state, the load is applied to the front and the water in the balloon moves to the back. As a result, the back side becomes flattened, and the water that cannot escape leaks out of the annulus fibrosus in the back (herniated disc).

Any exercise, especially early morning spinal bending, is especially hard on the body, increasing the stress on the discs by 300% and the ligaments by 80% compared to the stress at night.

To protect the intervertebral discs, it is recommended to refrain from exercising the spine within 30 minutes early in the morning and do “straight stretches” instead of bending over.

If you think you have any symptoms such as back pain or numbness in the lower limbs, we recommend that you have an examination without delay.

Written by Tadaaki Minowa,