It’s not often that exercise specifically causes a collapsed disc, although it is possible for two main reasons. First, sports that involve high-speed collisions (e.g., football and hockey) can lead to traumatic spinal injuries. A sudden impact can cause a disc to “collapse,” or flatten out without returning to its normal height.
Second, other activities also expose the spine to excess wear and tear. For instance, long distance running can force the spinal discs to absorb repeated impacts for hours at a time, several days a week. Even though the discs are there to provide much-needed cushioning, they can only withstand so much stress before slowly starting to degenerate. This sort of gradual disc degeneration is one of the primary collapsed disc causes.
Signs that you may need to change your fitness plan
It may be time to think about collapsed disc causes and reevaluate your workout routine if:
- You’re experiencing chronic pain in your neck or back
- You’ve lost some of your range of motion
- You find yourself aching after your workouts (and not in the sense of normal fatigue and muscle soreness)
- You’re struggling to complete some of the workouts that you once found easy
- You’re sustaining frequent impacts that are exposing your spine to unnecessary wear and tear
What you can do if your exercise plan is causing spinal degeneration
Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy body weight can help reduce your risk of developing a collapsed disc, so it’s important not to trade in your active lifestyle for a sedentary one. In fact, obesity and inactivity are two other common collapsed disc causes. And, depending on your sport of choice and the overall health of your spine, you may not have to give up your preferred activity entirely. Before making any changes, you should consult with a sports medicine specialist or orthopedic physician to discuss the most common collapsed disc causes, as well as your options for protecting your spine. For instance, you may be able to replace the majority of your high-impact training with an alternative such as swimming, cycling or yoga, but add in a few short runs or occasional games of rec-league soccer to keep things interesting.
To learn more about the various causes of a collapsed disc and what you can do if the condition develops, you can contact USA Spine Care. We are the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and can review* your MRI at no cost to help you find out if you’re a candidate for our outpatient procedures.
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