According to a recent finding, around 80% of people are likely to experience a spell of low back pain and that lumbar disc herniation is one of the common causes. Are you suffering from lower back pain? Well, the good news is that you are not alone and there are a couple of simple herniated disc exercises to try.
Back pain is sadly a common condition. For several people, a painful back is just not a one-time incidence. While there are many underlying causes of this pain, an increasingly common one is a herniated disc in the lumbar portion of the spine.
In this post, let’s learn more about this cause and explore the simple exercises to improve the overall quality of life.
Exercise routine for herniated disc in lower back
According to a clinical appraisal for treating herniated lumbar disc, the McKenzie program is tagged as a highly effective exercise routine. It is tailored to the symptoms and focuses on workouts that diminish or consolidate exuding pain. Even the core stability exercises are known to minimize low back pain due to a herniated disc in the lumbar portion. Thus, both types of exercises, which are simple to perform, are described below.
Note: If any of these workouts increases pain, just stop doing it and consult your doctor immediately. These exercises are not meant to replace the medicines you are taking.
Exercises for herniated disc in lower back
1. Spinal Decompression
This is the first exercise to try for treating a bulging or herniated disc, as it creates space between the affected disc’s vertebrae to remove pressure from the disc. It is easy to perform this stretch. Following are the steps:
- Use anything from where you can hang, such as the top of a door, and simply hang with both hands.
- Be in this position for 30 seconds.
- Repeat the steps thrice.
- Release your body gradually at the end to avoid any spasms.
Usually, this stretching exercise will not trigger any pain. If it does, just skip this exercise.
2. Cat-Cow Pose/Stretch
This stretch is among the most effective herniated disc exercises. Herein, you combine two yoga poses to release pressure on the affected disc by making the intervertebral disc space available. This stretch also helps in enhancing spine mobility, which can aid in relieving pain due to herniation and accelerating recovery. Here is how to do this stretch:
- Start by placing both the knees and palms fully touching the floor.
- Inhale and while doing so, look upwards and allow your stomach to go downwards.
- Exhale gradually and take your spine upwards towards the ceiling while pressing the palms into the floor and curving the neck a bit to glance at your feet.
Perform 10 repetitions of this pose and slowly reach two to three sets.
3. Prone Lumbar Extension or Half Cobra Stretch
This stretch is highly effective in moving the disc content back towards the middle of the intervertebral disc. This means it facilitates better recovery. As the focus is to extend the lower back, the repeated stretches aim at consolidating the radiating symptoms. In other words, the pain that reaches the leg and the foot withdraws to come back near the low back, which means ease of pain. Here are the steps of doing the half cobra stretch:
- Start by being in the prone position, which means lying on your stomach.
- Place the forearm close to the body on the floor, such that the elbows bend to form an angle of 45 degrees.
- Ensure that the chin touches the floor.
- Gradually pull yourself up based on the elbows without lifting your hips from the floor.
- Be in this upward pose for up to 10 to 15 seconds.
- Return to the prone position with the chin touching the floor.
Slowly increase the upward position time to 30 seconds. Repeat the steps at least 10 times.
In the beginning, you might not feel comfortable or bear the stretch well. Thus, the key here is to begin gradually as well as carefully. In case you feel any pain, go for another variation or exercise.
4. Advanced Extension or Full Cobra Stretch
This exercise is an extension of the half cobra pose but the working principle and the goal are the same. If you are comfortable performing the half cobra stretch, consider raising the bar of difficulty by performing this advanced version.
- You start this workout by lying on the floor on your stomach and slowly moving upwards such that the pelvis part remains in touch with the floor and the lumbar part remains relaxed.
- Be in this upward pose for 10 seconds and perform 10 repetitions of this pose.
- Gradually, try to be in the upward position for 20 to 30 seconds.
In case you feel pain or discomfort, stop this exercise and try some other one instead.
5. Standing Extension
This exercise works by reversing the most common but unfavorable pose of hunching that you do almost frequently. Hunching or poor posture is perhaps one of the common causes of bulging and herniated discs. If this is the cause in your case too, the standing extension exercise will help by moving the disc back to its normal position. Following are the steps to perform this stretch:
- Stand straight to ensure a good posture.
- Place both hands on their corresponding sides of the lower back.
- Move your pelvis using the support of your hands while extending the spine backward such that the neck sees the ceiling.
Begin by repeating the steps 10 times and then gradually perform two to three sets. Consider this stretch when you want a break after sitting for some time. If you feel discomfort or pain, stop doing this stretch.
6. Bridges using Stability Balls
Stability or exercise balls are often used for exercising to manage the condition of herniated disc by strengthening the back. Here are the steps of using one such ball:
- Start by lying on the floor such that you put the feet atop the ball while extending the legs.
- Place arms next to your body on the floor.
- Raise the hips two inches without rolling the ball away. To do so, contract the abdominal and gluteal muscles. In an effort to stabilize the ball, the spine gets slight but effective improvement due to the use of butt as well as hip muscles.
7. Bird Dog Pose
The aim of this stretching exercise is to align and stabilize the spine due to which you do not face the herniation issue in the future. It will strengthen the deep muscles of the spine and lower back. As a result, you will be able to sustain a good posture to keep the spell of herniated discs at bay. Following are the steps to perform this exercise:
- Start on your hands and knees on the floor such that the hands are under the shoulders and knees under the hips.
- Lift the left arm and forward it such that it is in line with the torso, and simultaneously, push your right leg back such that it remains in line with the torso.
- Be in this pose for two to three seconds. Ensure that the back, neck, and head are neutrally aligned so that stress on your neck is reduced.
- Return to the position described in step 1.
- Do the same with your left leg and right arm.
Make 10 repetitions using alternate sides and perform two to three sets.
The goal of this exercise is the same as that of the bird dog pose. Just as the latter, this exercise aids in repositioning the pelvis to its original position by fortifying the deep muscles of the spine and butt muscles. Here are the steps to perform a simple plank:
- Start by lying on the stomach and forearms against the rug.
- Raise your body while engaging the core such that you rest on toes and forearms. Retain the back straight while doing the exercise.
- Be in this position for 10 seconds
Gradually increase the hold time to 30 seconds. Consider performing two to three sets.
Types of Herniated Disc Exercises
There is no need of an intense cardio workout or lift hefty weights, as they can worsen the condition instead of improving it. Simple stretches and aerobics can manage the pain due to herniated discs effectively.
Stretching routines such as Pilates and yoga poses have shown to enhance strength as well as flexibility while relieving acute pain in the lower back and legs. Your health experts may also suggest lumbar stabilization workouts that target the back as well as abdominal muscles to correct the posture while fortifying strength and flexibility.
You can try moderate aerobics such as walking, swimming, and biking to minimize pain. A few aerobic workouts may be better to manage your particular condition.
It is recommended to start an aerobic session slowly, let’s say up to 10 minutes for the first time, and then raising the duration each day. Finally, you should target 30 to 40 minutes of workout on each of the selected five days per week.
It is necessary to consult your healthcare expert to know the types of exercises that can effectively manage the symptoms of the condition. Exercising can be a satisfying and fun way to manage the symptoms of a herniated disc. However, for this experience, it is essential to work with your healthcare expert to come up with a routine to which you can adhere for decreasing pain. Eventually, exercises will trigger a better feeling in you.
Herniated discs are pushed vertebrae discs that intrude delicate nerve endings spreading throughout the spine. Its pain can be intense, which can persuade you to remain in bed for most of the time. However, you should not! Rather, you should perform the aforementioned herniated disc exercises to alleviate pain and speed up recovery.
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