A herniated disc is usually found in the lumbar spine, which is the lower part of your back. What do those discs do? They are those ‘cushions’ between every bone of the spine and they let you move your backbone. So a herniated disc is when one of those discs presses on the nerves around the backbone. Another common name for this is slipped disc.
My family has a history of back problems and I suffered from a herniated disc for a long time until I decided to go ahead for surgery. But in the meantime exercises helped a lot and they can be really helpful.
Before you start any kind of exercise always consult your doctor and only do them when your back gets a little stronger and does not hurt very much. The ultimate goal for exercises is to make your back and stomach muscles stronger.
I was referred to a physical therapist who gave me a good set of exercises that were not difficult to do and basically I could do them at home, at school or anywhere. Most of them start by stretching and carefully bending over forward and to the sides.
Here is what I was asked to do and I felt better in about 4 to 6 weeks.
Bend your knees and hips every time you lift something and it is very important to keep your back straight.
If you have to carry something make sure that it is close to your body so that you are sort of forming a 90 degrees angle on your elbows.
If you are in a situation where you have to stand for a long time, put one foot on something higher than the ground.
If you have to sit for a long time, put both your feet on something so that your knees are higher than your hips.
Women should avoid high heeled shoes
Sleeping on your stomach might be very comfortable but it’s best to be avoided if you have a herniated disc.
Do extension exercises where you lay on your stomach and lifting up your upper body on your elbows and keeping the hips on the floor. This should be done carefully and only when you feel comfortable. Stay in that position for 5 seconds and slowly working on adding more time.
An upper back extension is also recommended and I found this very difficult at first but it really helps. Go into a prone position (stomach on the floor) and clasp your hands behind your lower back and raise your head and chest a little bit. Only hold into this position for 5 seconds and if you are feeling pain or uncomfortable stop right away.
The best exercise for me to strengthen the abdominals was curl ups. Lie on your back with your knees bent and fold your arms across the chest and curl up a little bit by lifting the head and shoulders from the floor. Hold for two seconds and complete ten curls.
Last but not least is an aerobic exercise. People often over look this kind of exercise because they don’t know how beneficial it is. Walking is very good for a herniated disc (make sure you are wearing appropriate and comfortable shoes.) Start by walking a short distance and gradually progress to up to 3 miles a day.
Other forms of exercises and helpful information can be found on these sites: