You would think that space would be a happy place for your back. Actually, it isn’t and let me try to explain why.
Astronauts and their back pains
We have known for quite some time that astronauts often suffer from back pains. Why is that? Recently, a manuscript titled : “Disc herniations in astronauts: What causes them, and what does it tell us about herniation on earth?” published in Europeon Spine Journal looked at why astronauts develop more disc herniations. This narrative literature research review was in response to a 2010 publication in Aviation Space Environment and Medicine whereby they concluded a positive correlation between disc herniations and astronauts.
To get the framework
Over the course of the day, down on Earth, the spine undergoes this accordion height change. When we are vertical and awake with muscle activity, the spine is under compression. This is similar to how a tire of a bicycle, when left long enough will slowly loose its pressure, so does the spine but at a much faster rate. Actually, on Earth we lose up to 2.5 cm in height over the course of the day and this loss is ex-pulsed from the intervertebral discs. The discs are hydrophilic (water-loving) structures that resist compression so our vertebrae do not get too close to one another.