A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 7: Training for Mobility 161 Figure 7.15. Percentage of Patients with Documented Disc Abnormalities but no Symptoms While spinal abnormalities and age-related changes of the spine do not necessarily guarantee low back pain, they can in some cases, increase the potential for low back pain. For example, heavy strength training has been shown to thicken certain portions of the lumbar vertebra (e.g., facet joints) thereby decreasing the size of the spinal canal (an opening in the lumbar vertebra that encompasses the spinal cord). These adaptations to heavy strength training are not necessarily bad, but can, when combined with other age-related disc abnormalities, increase the likelihood of the lumbar and sacral nerve roots being compressed thereby resulting in sciatica (a condition in which pain radiates down one or both legs). Figure 7.16 depicts the anatomy of a lumbar vertebra. Figure 7.16. Anatomy of a Healthy Spine (Left) and Spinal Stenosis (Right)