Exercise is a common component of herniated disc treatment. Taking a proactive approach to your recovery with physical activity will reduce your pain and help ensure the long-term health of your back.
A herniated disc may require 1 or 2 days rest to alleviate pain. However, you should resist the temptation to lie in bed for days at a time because your muscles need conditioning to aid the recovery process. If you forgo exercise and physical activity, your body may not respond to treatment as well as it could.
Exercising is an effective way to strengthen and stabilize your low back muscles and prevent further injury and pain. Strong muscles support your body weight and bones—taking unnecessary pressure off your spine.
But even if you have strong muscles to support your back, you must lose weight to truly support your spine. Carrying around extra weight constantly strains your back— you're practically doing heavy lifting all the time! Losing weight will reduce your pain and promote the health of your back. If you need to lose weight, talk to you doctor about options.
You don't need to endure an intense cardio program or lift heavy weights—simple stretching and aerobic exercises can effectively control your herniated disc pain.
Stretching programs like yoga and Pilates improve strength and flexibility, and offer relief of acute pain in your leg and low back.
Your doctor may also prescribe dynamic lumbar stabilization exercises. This program features exercises that work the abdominal and back muscles to address posture, flexibility, and strength.
Moderate aerobic activities, including walking, biking, and swimming, also help relieve pain. Some aerobic activities might be better suited to your specific condition. Talk to your doctor about what exercises will best help you.
SpineUniverse put together a series of exercise and stretching videos for people with herniated disc. With input from a physical therapist, we created 3 videos to show you stretches you can do every day to help your back (after you've gotten approval from your doctor, of course). You should watch the herniated disc exercise video series.
When beginning an aerobic exercise program, start slow—perhaps 10 minutes the first day—and gradually increase your time each day. Eventually, you should aim for 30 to 40 minutes of activity 5 days a week.
Exercise can be an enjoyable and satisfying way to treat symptoms associated with a herniated disc. You and your doctor can work together to develop a program that you can stick with and will reduce your pain. Ultimately, exercise will help you feel better, and it should help relieve your pain from a herniated disc.