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Herniated Disk: 11 Tips for What to Avoid and Safe Exercises

by Jessica
3 mins read
Herniated Disk: 11 Tips for What to Avoid and Safe Exercises

How can I exercise and get fit if I have a herniated disc? Are there any easy home exercises that can strengthen my lower back muscles and prevent or improve spine disorders?

1. The most important fitness training is rehabilitation.

In acute cases of lumbar disc herniation, exercise is not suitable. Instead, it is recommended that you rest in bed and receive related treatments. After the acute phase has passed, some rehabilitative training can be carried out slowly according to the doctor’s recommendations.

2. There are many exercises to avoid.

Patients with a herniated lumbar disc must be aware that there are many movements in the fitness process that they should avoid, including strenuous exercises such as weightlifting, basketball, tennis, etc., and movements that are very taxing on the lumbar spine such as bending over and sit-ups. Do not do sudden, strenuous activities either. If your symptoms worsen, stop exercising.

3. Adjust the training plan accordingly.

When training with a fitness trainer at the gym, you need to tell your trainer that you have a herniated disc in your lower back so that the trainer can adjust the training plan accordingly. It is also advisable to verify the trainer’s qualifications and choose a trainer with high professionalism and experience.

4. Need to strengthen core muscles.

Patients with lumbar disc herniation need to strengthen their core muscles, especially the transversus abdominis (deep abdominal muscles) and the multifidus (deep back muscles), to protect better and stabilize the lumbar spine.

5. Not suitable for the initial training of disc herniation.

Traditional lumbar and abdominal exercises such as planking, prone leg lifts, and superman are not suitable for beginners because their lumbar spines are already unstable. This type of training will increase the pressure on the lumbar spine and aggravate the condition. In addition, many ordinary people feel discomfort in their lower back when doing leg lifts. But curls are suitable if the movement is not too large.

6. A few recommended rehabilitation exercises for herniated lumbar discs:

  • Crunches. Exhale and use the force of the rectus abdominal contraction to lift the upper back to curl the body, keeping the lower back on the ground, then inhale and return. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps each. Be sure to keep the movement small.
Lumbar Herniated Disk: 6 Safe Exercises and What to Avoid
  • Hip bridge. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps each. Do it slowly and don’t suddenly push very high, which can easily damage the lumbar spine.
Herniated Disk: 11 Tips for What to Avoid and Safe Exercises
Hip bridge
  • Kneeling Rear Leg Lifts. Remember to keep your lower back and hips stable. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps each. When completing this movement well, you can progress to raising your arms and legs on the opposite sides while kneeling. Again, remember to keep the lumbar region stable at all times.
Herniated Disk: 11 Tips for What to Avoid and Safe Exercises
Kneeling Rear Leg Lifts
  • Superman (prone, hands behind the head, lifting the upper body). For the advanced level, spread your arms. Perform for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps each.
  • Kneeling straight arm plank. This movement dramatically reduces the stress on the lumbar spine compared to the plank but activates the transverse abdominal muscles; hold for 30 seconds for 2-3 sets.
Herniated Disk: 11 Tips for What to Avoid and Safe Exercises
Kneeling straight arm plank

7. Other workouts.

When choosing other workouts, prioritize less stressful movements on the lower back and abdomen, such as those done in a standing position or lying down, such as the bench press, flying bird, pull-ups, seated pull-down, leg curls, etc. These movements do not require excessive force on the torso. After you can do this type of movement more easily and the rehabilitation of the core of your lower back and abdomen has been carried out for some time, you can progress to more intense integrated training, such as weighted squats, light deadlifts, etc. Be sure to start with light weights and add a little more weight when you can easily perform 15-20 reps.

8. Warm-up exercises and stretching.

5-10 minutes of warm-up exercises and stretching are required before and after proper training, and stretching should also be done between workouts to avoid prolonged mechanical exercise on a single body part, especially the waist and abdomen. Cross-training all aspects of the body, with 48-72 hours between training sessions on the same part, can effectively prevent excessive muscle fatigue and injury.

9. Aerobic workouts like swimming are recommended.

The buoyancy of the water can reduce the impact on the joints, making swimming an excellent aerobic training method for patients with lumbar disc herniation, but you need to pay attention to your swimming posture. Some strokes, such as breaststroke, are not good because of the excessive lumbar curvature, but walking in the water is fine. In addition, avoid low water temperatures and do not exercise too much.

10. Exercise should not be too intense.

Other standings, running, and jumping aerobic workouts should be done slowly and not too intensely. HIIT, for example, can always be done carefully and stop immediately if you feel uncomfortable.

11. Wear a waist brace.

It is recommended to wear a waist brace when working out, as it provides some support and protection for the lumbar spine and also prevents cold in the lower back and injuries in sports.

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