If you’ve ever had the displeasure of having a herniated disc, you know it is not exactly a pain-free experience. You probably wanted to do anything you could to help yourself heal faster and make the pain go away. Things you can do to help the pain include rest, massage, medication, a shot in your spine, ice and hot packs, and physical therapy.
Sometimes having a chiropractor stretch your spine can help ease the pain. Exercising can help, if you know what exercises are safe and helpful, and if done very carefully and correctly. Your doctor or a physical therapist can help show you what exercises are helpful in building strength to improve the condition of a disc that has been herniated. Making your stomach and back muscles stronger and more coordinated is one of the goals of exercising for herniated disc, and will help your body to heal more quickly. Another advantage will be to start being able to perform your normal activities again. Physical therapy exercises may be done two to four times per week every week for approximately six weeks.
Many exercises are good to do while dealing with a herniated disc. Your basic guide would be to avoid putting pressure on, or bending your spine very much while it is healing. This leaves you free to focus on working your arm and leg, abdomen, and shoulder muscles, which all provide strength and support for your back.
To work on abdominal muscles with a herniated disc, lie on your back with your knees bent, arms at your sides, and feet flat on the floor. While tightening your abdominal muscles, push your lower back into the floor. Keeping your abdominals tight, lift up one leg a few inches off the floor, hold for 5 seconds, then lower it. Repeat this exercise with the opposite leg. Do 3 sets of 5 every day.
Swimming is a wonderful exercise if you have a herniated disc. It provides exercise for many muscles and puts no pressure on the back. The weightlessness the water provides is a great counter to gravity’s pull during ordinary exercise, and provides a range of movement, giving you a wide variety of exercise options to strengthen your entire body.
Yoga exercises, and asanas, or poses, can help to prevent spinal injuries from happening in the first place, and can help promote healing with a herniated disc. One exercise that brings relief is the cobra pose. Lie on your stomach with your hands on the floor underneath both shoulders. Very gently press your palms into the floor, lifting your head and torso up, off the floor. Going very slowly, lift only as far as is comfortable to you, and hold there for about a minute, continuing to breathe. Gently return to the floor, resting your entire body. Repeat a few times, making sure to be gentle with your body
Another yoga pose that helps gently stretch your spine and reduce pain from herniated discs is known as child’s pose. This is a gentle resting pose in yoga, and is begun by sitting on your knees on the floor. Next, simply stretch your hands out on the floor in front of you, bending over your knees, placing your head down on the floor. Place your hands above your head on the floor, and keep your bottom down toward the floor. This provides a nice stretch to the lower back, and brings oxygen into your body while you continue to breathe throughout the exercise.