Exercises that make herniated discs worse

If you missed out on yesterday’s message, here is another link of it describing the ways in which you can figure out if your pain is caused by a herniated disc. Today we are going to talk about the best exercises to address this herniated disc of yours. But before we proceed, we do have a few ground rules:

1) The key to your recovery is that you listen to your body and see how you respond to each movement/position. When you see a physical therapist/chiropractor/physician in person, they are treating the person (that is YOU) and not the MRI. So your care should be based on the information at hand, and not just a handful of exercises that say it CAN help. 

2) If the exercises improve pain, then these could be for you.

3) If they increase your pain or worsen them, then they may not be for you, for now.

The following are a couple exercises/stretches that can be helpful with treating a herniated disc. This is based on the theory that the disc will move in the direction of the least resistance. Often times, the pain will be a result of a herniated disc pushing straight back or out towards one side (often to the same side as the pain). The goal with these exercises is to reduce the disc bulge and allow for a swifter recovery.

When I work with my clients, I usually start off with 5-10 repetitions, and then see how they feel. If they feel great, then then is recommended for them to do 1-3 times per day. If they don’t feel great, we remove them from the program.

Extension in standing– The idea is back bending will push the contents of that disc back in towards the middle, reducing the pressure off the nerves.

Prone press-up– This is based off of the same principle above, but laying down feels a little better.

Side bend towards the pain– If the disc is pushing out towards one side (in the direction of pain), then this side bend motion is designed to push the contents of the disc back in towards the middle.

Rotation away from the pain– This is based on the theory of “coupled motions” of the spine. Rotation away theoretically adds in side bending towards the direction of pain, and then compounds on the motion above (side bending towards pain)

These should be a good start to addressing a herniated disc. This is not an exhaustive list of the exercises for a disc herniation. Your pain is unique to you and a herniated disc does not always indicate that it is the source of pain. Medical imaging is there to rule out fractures, cancers and other sinister events. If there are no cancers or fractures, then they did their job. The key to your recovery is how you respond to each stretch or exercise.

Tomorrow, I’ll share what stretches/exercises could make a herniated disc worse and why that would happen.

If you want to get started on your own self management, then check out our Sciatica Protocol. Harness the power of a physical therapist’s mind through your phone, and walk through a step by step way to help manage your sciatica pain. This is complete with a daily stretching routine that is based on how you respond to exercises/stretches. We have just opened up a free 3 day trial, and only $9.99/week after that. You can cancel anytime. Check it out here.

Also, join us for an awesome free webinar on February 15th at 7am PST to discuss the strategies on how to manage your sciatica pain on your own. You can RSVP here (and bonus, it is the day before my 35th birthday; come celebrate with me!).


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