Intervertebral Discs sit between each vertebrae in the human spine. These are the structures you hear of when someone says they have a herniated disc.
Upon waking first thing in the morning your intervertebral discs are hyperhydrated or filled with a lot of fluid. This normally decreases throughout the day as you bear weight through your spine with normal activity.
Because of the hyperhydration, the discs are taller and ligaments that cross over the disc become more taut, and have less give, causing more stress on the discs with movement. This situation may set you up to be more at risk for lower back injuries when stressing the spine right after waking up.
So what does this mean for me?
1. Don’t stop exercising in the morning if you don’t have time to exercise at any other point.
2. If possible, train later in the day (McGill recommends waiting 2 hours after waking to train) or if not possible try to spend some time in a weight bearing position (standing, sitting, walking) before starting your session.
3. Save the exercises that are tougher on your lower back (ie: Deadlifting, Squats, Olympic Lifts, Abdominal exercises) for sessions later in the day.
4. As always warm up thoroughly and specifically to prepare your body for the exercises to come in your training session.
McGill S. (2007) Low Back Disorders. Human Kinetics Publishers.