When Should I do Herniated Disc Exercises?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 July 2019
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A herniated disc can be a difficult condition to heal, but exercising regularly can help alleviate pain and eventually allow the damaged spinal disc to heal. You need to keep in mind, however, that some exercises can make the condition worse, and doing exercises when you are already in pain may exacerbate the spinal disc rather than help heal it. Herniated disc exercises should be done gently at first to prevent injury, and as the muscles that support the spine grow stronger, the exercises can become more rigorous. Part of the point of herniated disc exercises is to help the damaged spinal disc heal, so if you start doing exercises and the condition worsens or recurs, stop immediately.

Some people never experience any symptoms of a herniated disc, while others may become incapacitated due to this problem. If you become incapacitated or are in such pain that day to day activities cause you unbearable pain, do not do the exercises and instead visit a doctor immediately. Your condition may be serious enough that the doctor may prescribe a more aggressive course of treatment, or at least painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications that will help you resume daily activities. Once the pain has subsided, you may begin doing herniated disc exercises.


Avoid any exercises that force you to twist and bend at the same time. This puts the spinal disc in its weakest position, enhancing the possibility that the spinal disc will push against nerves that can cause pain throughout the body. Sit-ups that work the sides of the abs, for example, often require a person to bend at the waist and twist at the same time. Avoid such motions in the back and neck to avoid intensifying herniated disc pain or worsening the condition.

The spinal discs between vertebrae are often slow to heal because they do not receive much blood flow. Doing herniated disc exercises that stimulate blood flow to the spinal discs can encourage healing and reduce pain. The key to such exercises, however, is to do them lightly and avoid them altogether when the pain is intense. Sitting on an exercise ball and lightly bouncing up and down can help lightly compress the spinal discs, encouraging blood flow to them and consequently promoting healing. Do this exercise daily for about five to ten minutes at a time. Doing this several times a day is fine, but do not overdo it, as too much stimulation may cause pain in the injured discs.


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Post 3

I suppose when someone can do herniated disc treatment exercises depends on the extent of injury. I did not do any exercises at home until my doctor approved me for physical therapy. My physical therapist would give me 'homework' of exercises to do at home, until the next session.

Post 2

@fify-- I'm inclined to think that you did something wrong when you were exercising that caused the spasm. Also, were you taking pain relievers?

Pain relievers mask symptoms and might cause you to think that you are better when you are actually still healing. It's a good idea to wait until the effects of medications have worn off to determine whether you are ready for exercises or not.

And it's a good idea to follow the directions of the doctor when it comes to which exercises you can do. My doctor gave me an information sheet with pictures and descriptions of which herniated disc back exercises I can do. He told me the specific number of times that I need to do them per day. I followed his directions to the T and I was able to strengthen my back muscles with time. I never pushed myself though. If I felt even a small amount of discomfort, I stopped.

Post 1

I'm not sure of what to think about exercises for a herniate disc.

I have a herniated disc in my lower back. My doctor told me that I can start doing back exercises when the pain is gone and that's what I did. After months of being pain free, I was doing a very simple exercise where I was just taking steps to the left and right when I experienced a terrible spasm. Now I'm back where I started. In fact, I'm in a worse situation because I also have leg numbness now.

I don't think I will do any exercise aside from walking from now on, no matter what my doctor tells me.

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