A 15-Minute Happy Back Practice
End of the day and your back is killing you. Sound familiar?
Back pain stems from a variety of issues— a back injury, overuse, arthritis, a herniated disc or spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spine). Symptoms can include pain, stiffness, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs. No matter the underlying cause of back pain, dehydration of the discs between your vertebrae can worsen pain.
Prolonged periods of sitting or standing tend to aggravate back pain. One reason for this is that over the course of a day the force of gravity causes the vertebrae of the spine to compress, squeezing water out of the discs that separate the vertebrae.
Why does this happen? Spinal discs do not have a blood supply. Instead, they exchange nutrients through a process called imbibition. Through this process, water is drawn into the tissues as pressure is decreased. Fortunately, in the case of our spines, our discs routinely rehydrate at night when we lay down to sleep.
The other way we can rehydrate our spinal discs is through movement and spinal decompression. Spinal decompression increases the space between the vertebrae, in particular between the vertebrae and nerves that branch out from the spine. By “pulling” in the opposite direction of gravity (or tractioning the spine) you can increase space while simultaneously decreasing pressure on the nerves.