Degenerative Disc Disease: Incorrect Lifting Is Destroying Your Back.

Degenerative Disc Disease: Incorrect Lifting Is Destroying Your Back.

 By the age of fifty, 85 percent of the population will show evidence of disc

degeneration. The vast majority of these cases are asymptomatic. Although it is commonly referred to as a side effect of aging, it has more to do with incorrect function or posture than with your age.

Your discs are the cushions between your vertebrae that allow your spine much of the flexibility it has. Performing repetitive movements with incorrect posture is a common way to cause Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD).   When the discs are stressed and placed in improper position it begins to wear the discs down. Since they have very limited blood flow it is difficult for them to repair from this trauma.   As previously stated many people are currently developing DDD but are unaware as the symptoms often follow years after the disease has developed. This is when the body begins to compensate and adapt from the structural changes those other parts of the body such as muscles; nerves, joints, etc. begin to develop stress and pain.

When we work and live with incorrect posture we begin to develop postural distortion patters. You have often heard that lifting incorrectly is bad for you. This is not because lifting one time incorrectly causes major damage, however, when lifting incorrectly repetitively you begin to damage the discs and surrounding structures. It is most often noticed though one time when lifting and a large pain is felt in the lower back, making it difficult to stand or walk. This was a compound effect of many years of damage being placed on the spine from lifting incorrectly.

It’s not just about lifting heavy machinery for this to happen. Improper lifting of lighter objects such as children, heavy purses, groceries, or any object that is over 5 pounds can also be affecting the function of your spine. When we repeatedly lift by bending over or rotating our upper bodies it puts a stress on the discs that begin to wear out and cause DDD.

How do you know if you are starting to develop this postural distortion pattern that may be leading to Degenerative Disc Disease? Common symptoms include chronic low back pain with or without radiation to the hips or aching pain in the buttocks and or the backs of the thighs may be seen with walking. Other symptoms include pain generally made worse with sitting, bending, lifting and twisting. For a detailed and specific analysis on if your posture may be causing this disease get a Posture Diagnosis Online from the American Posture Institute.

5 Tips to help prevent DDD

  • Change your lifting habits
    1. When lifting always bend with your legs. (Yes this is a simple tip – so do it).
    2. Don’t lift items that are too heavy for you. Ask help from a friend or coworker.


  • Become aware of your postural position
    1. Before you lift remind yourself of the correct way to lift.
    2. Evaluate the best way to lift the object.
    3. Be conscious of your posture while lifting.
  • Tighten your core when lifting
    1. Flex your core muscles while lifting to protect your spine and discs from damage.
  • Strengthen the core muscles.
    1. Planking is a simple but effective way to strengthen the core. Do this every day for as long as you can hold the plank.tggfsdfgdsf
  • Performing lumbar distraction
    1. There are two effective ways of performing lumbar distraction at home. These exercises open up the vertebra and facets, allowing the discs to expand to their normal position.



Written By:
Dr. Mark Wade DC, DrPH, CPE, CPEP
Certified Posture Expert
Doctor of Chiropractic
Doctor of Public Health
Founder of the American Posture Institute



  1. The Basis of Mechanical Instability in Degenerative Disc Disease: A Cadaveric Study of Abnormal Motion Versus Load Distribution Sengupta, Dilip K. MD, Dr. Med; Fan, Haibo PhD   Spine: 01 June 2014 – Volume 39 – Issue 13 – p 1032–1043 doi: 10.1097/BRS.000000000000029
  1. Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch web site,
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