People who don´t get enough exercise are generally more likely to experience back pain than those who are physically fit, but is it really so for all spine conditions?
A recent Danish study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders established no link between herniated lumbar disc disease and levels of physical fitness. However, it did find an increase in this spine condition associated with lower back pain among people whose job requires strenuous physical activity.
A team led by Marie Jorgensen of the National Research Centre for the Working Environment in Copenhagen analysed data from an existing study of 5,249 Danish men between 1970 and 1971. The participants filled in questionnaires about medical history, lifestyle, working conditions and socioeconomic status. The men were measured for weight and height and were also asked to complete a bicycle test to establish their physical fitness level. The researchers then gathered data from the National Hospital Register (NHR), a database of hospital admissions in Denmark since 1977, to see if the men had been hospitalised for herniated lumbar disc disease between 1977 and 2003.
Of the study participants, 3,833 men were without a history of low back disorders and 64 of them were eventually hospitalised due to herniated lumbar disc disease.
Although the data showed no connection between levels of physical fitness and herniated lumbar disc disease, an increase in the condition was observed in people with more strenuous activity at work such as lifting heavy objects and prolonged sitting in an awkward posture.