Running With Disc Herniations

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

Running With Disc Herniations| Dr Ken Nakamura 110 Yonge Street #905 M5C 1T4 Tel:416-546-9199

Are you running after being diagnosed with a disc herniation?


Is your disc herniation preventing you from running as much or as far as you like?


Do you want to run again even with your diagnosis of a disc herniation?


Great news from recent research that came out in April 2017 indicates that running exercises actually strengthens the invertebral disc. [1] A group of researchers took a group of men and women who run on a regular basis and a group of people who were sedentary, not doing much exercise. What they found was that the discs were actually larger in size and had more water content in runners when compared to the sedentary group.


Disc Herniation Exercises


The water content in a disc is important as it helps determine the general health of the disc. After the water content in your disc goes down the disc degenerates and after a certain point has less ability to do its job of protecting your nerves and spinal cord.


More interesting was that runners that were doing 20-40 km per week had an even greater protection of the nucleus of the disc. Surprisingly, runners doing more than 50 km per week had even a greater protective effect of the nucleus.


Disc pressure increases when you stand vs lying down. When you run there is an up and down motion which increases this pressure from the weight of your torso above.


Disc Herniation 101 Self Treatments


This profound finding means that like a muscle gets bigger in response to doing push-ups, your disc gets bigger and healthier in response to the up and down motion of your weight from running. The more you run the bigger the disc gets.


Running And Your Disc Herniation


The runners that I treat typically run no more than 60 km. I find that even ultramarathoners don’t typically run more than 80 km. Even with the protective effects of running on your discs, many runners have desk jobs.


These sitting jobs result in most of you slouching. The problem is a bigger, healthier disc will give you more sudden disc herniation as if you were younger, whereas if you are older the disc tends to come out slowly over many days or even weeks.




Much is known about what is damaging to discs, like sitting for long periods, lifting while bent forward and toe touches. We didn’t know what makes a disc healthier until now. The great news is that while running seems to make a difference other forms of exercise will likely make an impact on the health of your invertebral disc.


Hope that helps your running and your disc.


1. Daniel L. Belavý, Matthew J. Quittner, Nicola Ridgers, Yuan Ling, David Connell & Timo Rantalainen, Running exercise strengthens the intervertebral disc Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 45975 (2017)


Dr Ken Nakamura

12 Responses to Running With Disc Herniations
  • Gangadhar says:
    December 10, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Thanq for u reply sir…I want to know,is jogging is good after disc herniation…please give me full information…

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      December 10, 2017 at 10:31 pm

      Gangadhar the question is actually dependent on the stage of the disc herniation. If you run right after you put out your disc herniation you will be clearly worse. At that point, it will be “bad” for you. If you run while recovering a week or two after. You may get worse or better. That depends on how far the disc is out, how much you sit, are you doing your exercises, are you maintaining your posture. If the disc is still pushing out against the nerve even 6 months later running can aggravate the problem. If you the disc is not sticking out as much and you are maintaining your posture then it might be fine to run after a few days.

      So it’s not a black or white or good or bad. Most things in life are not good or bad. It’s 50 shades of grey. In other words, it depends on your unique situation. In your case, you can are not worse, but not necessarily better after running. If you put out your back again it will likely change.

      Hope that helps your disc herniation. If you have any more questions for this Toronto chiropractor I will give you the best answer that I can.

  • Gangadhar says:
    December 7, 2017 at 1:17 am

    Hai sir…this is Gangadhar..I have disc protusion at l5s1…is jogging is good for disc problems…becoz am jogging thrice a week 4 to 5 km ….after jog there is no at all…when I stand for half an hour pain in left leg comes..what happens to my back …please suggest me good daily routine ….

  • Nate Croom says:
    October 31, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Dr Ken Nakamura,
    I’m a very frustrated runner who is experiencing a lot of sharp pain in my left shoulder blade that goes all the way down my left arm, hand, and makes my fingers feel very weird. It hurts when I breathe. This started in July. The pain feels like I’m getting stabbed through the front to the back as well on the front left side. I’ve had two mri’s-one of the thoracic and one of the neck. Excuse the pun but I feel like I’m getting the run around by the drs. I’m around 40 and I would like to get back to running my normal miles a week. Running is the vehicle that centers me emotionally.
    I’ve had one injection at the c6. I have been told that the mri showed something about dehydrated disc between the c5-c6. The thoracic mri just showed a lot of “tiny and eccentric left-sided disc protrusions.” There is one at t1-T2 and t3-t4 and t5–t6 and t7-t8 “minimally effacing the left lateral recess.” And “Mild congenital narrowing of the spinal canal throughout the mid thoracic spine.” I haven’t received a copy of the neck mri.
    All this being said, I have been going to a chiropractor a couple times a week. I’ve been to PT after my Internist saw me in July. The PT told me to go back to my Internist (due to not getting better, or him being stumped?). My Internist sent me to a neck specialist or neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon sent me to a pain specialist who gave me a epidural shot. The shot didn’t work. It’s been 3 months. I’m grasping at straws. I just want to be back to when I didn’t have constant pain when I breathe. I’m trying to run but it hurts around mile 4 or if I’m lucky mile 9. Afterward the run I’m in a lot of pain. So I have run only a few times (enough to feed my mind).
    Today, I’m in a lot of pain and I don’t have any solutions or see any hope for getting better. Any suggestions?
    Nate Croom

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      November 8, 2017 at 8:08 am

      Thanks for your question Nate. Sorry to hear that you can run without getting into to pain. First of all, when you have problems with breathing the problem typically is starting in the thoracic spine. MRIs don’t give you the full picture. How can I say that? The majority of MRIs are taken lying down. How do you run? Not lying down. There is simply more pressure on the discs when you stand, sit or run. Also as you can tell you have three areas that are potential problems but most of the time it’s one. Your PT or chiropractor should focus on the thoracic spine, from my point of view. That’s based on my experience and what the literature says but it’s an opinion and not a recommendation.

      Also, it’s not the profession as much as the person that is important. Hope that helps your possible disc herniation. If you have any more questions I will be happy to answer them. Dr Ken downtown Toronto Chiropractor.

      • Nate Croom says:
        December 6, 2017 at 10:15 pm

        Thank you Dr Ken Nakamura!

  • Chris b says:
    October 24, 2017 at 5:16 am

    Hi Dr. Ken just wanted to ask a question regarding a herniated disc, are the words compression and indention used interchangeably when it concerns a disc issue or is one worse than the next as I have small herniated disc which indents the theca.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      October 24, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks for your question Chris. Good question. Just like herniated disc means different things to different people including health practitioners the words compression and indentation is not standardized. One radiologist’s compression is another’s indentation. It’s similar for mild, moderate or mild to moderate degree of thecal sac compression.

      It’s certainly not as scientific as you would think. However, with the one practitioner looking at similar x-rays or MRI you generally get a high level of consistency but not as consistent between radiologists.

      Hope that helps your disc hernitions. If you have any more questions for this Toronto downtown chiropractor I will do my best to answer your questions.

  • Farid says:
    October 2, 2017 at 2:23 am

    Hi Dr Ken, I have a question, If you can help me out. I did a Plank 4 months ago and this fat girl sat on my back while I was doing the plank for 5 sec. since then my lower back hurts, I went to see a doctor, he took X-ray, he said my disk looks good but the S1 looked a bit in trouble. He said I should see physical therapist , I saw him, but that didn’t help. Any suggestions Dr Ken will be help full. I wonder if I missed aligned my back? Thank you very much.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      October 2, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Thanks for your question Farid. First, why is the girl sitting on your back? To see how strong you are? Next, it is definitely possible that you misaligned your lower back. However, it is also possible that you strained and sprained your lower back as it was too much pressure for the muscles or the ligaments. It isn’t likely that you put out your lower back unless you have an extra curved back which will put out the disc in a forward direction if your plank collapsed thus arching your back, even more, causing a herniation of the disc in the forward direction. It doesn’t sound like what you wrote, so the most likely scenario is a misalignment or sprain/strain of the lower back.

      Hope that helps your lower back. Make sure you don’t have any more girls sitting on your lower back. The above is an opinion and not a recommendation. A chiropractor could help in either case above but it always depends on the skill of the chiropractor.

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