Herniated Disc Part 2: The Best Exercises For Your Herniated Disc

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

Have you gone over the Disc Herniation Part 1” article from last week and feel better but still have pain?

Do you want to find out the best exercises to put your herniated disc back in?

Do you want to feel better than you do now?

In this article I go over

  1. Best exercises to push a herniated disc back into place

  2. Stabilization exercises that keep your disc from coming out

Lumbar Disc Herniation-Downtown Toronto Chiropractor

Lumbar Disc Herniation             From neurosciences.beaumont.edu

When you have a herniated disc the nucleus has been pushed through the annulus like in the picture above. What caused it to go out in the first place?

The answer is forward bending. Each time you bend forward your disc which is like a jelly/jam doughnut gets pinched at the front. Pinch the doughnut often enough or hard enough and the annulus breaks and the nucleus goes through and pushes on the nerve.

The disc is actually made of a hard cartilage on the outside, but the inside is relatively soft, like phlegm. You need to understand that with a disc or doughnut, they work in the similar way.

If you push on one side of the doughnut, the jelly gets pushed to the other side. Same with the disc so the analogy to a doughnut is pretty close.

When there is enough pressure on the nerve from a herniated disc or if there is inflammation you feel pain.

The solution is to push the doughnut to the opposite side. This is exactly how you can fix your herniated disc.

If you want to know more details about herniated discs, go to Disc Herniation Part 1: Best Self-Treatments To Help Your Lumbar Disc Herniation.

How Do I Put Pressure On The Opposite Side of the Disc?

The answer is you bend your spine backwards or put your spine into extension.

Best exercises to push a herniated disc back into place

Warning: You can get a little more pain while doing these exercises. If the pain is getting much worse or your pain goes further down the leg while you are doingthese exercises, stop right away

Lie face down or prone in bed with your elbows tucked in under your side:

  • As soon as you get up in the morning you should lie prone (face down). By getting in this position, your lower back becomes more arched, or as doctors say, you increase your lordosis.
  • The increased lordosis pushes on the back of the disc helping to bring the nucleus forward into the correct position.

Sphinx pose in Yoga or Prone Prop McKenzie

  • Get into the prone position lying down on your stomach.
  • Next get on your elbows. If you have a hard time with this position go back into the prone lying position.
  • Do these exercises holding each time for 1-2 seconds 6-8 times per set. This exercise can be repeated every two hours throughout the day.

Asses yourself. If the pain has decreased or pain has moved away from the leg or thigh and into the hip or buttock, this is an improvement. Even if the pain is increased in the back but relieved in the leg this is an improvement and a green light that you should continue this exercise. You also get a green light if there is no difference at all.

  • If your self-assessment gives you the green light, move onto the Cobra exercises just below.
  • If your thigh or leg pain is worse, then stop right away.
  • If your low back, thighs and legs are the same you get a green light, move on to the Cobra exercises.

Yoga Cobras or McKenzie Push-ups

 

  • Lie down face down with your hands underneath your shoulders.
  • Push up from as high as you can until your lower back stops you or your elbows are straight.
  • The pelvis should still be on the floor and the lower back muscles relaxed.
  • Do these exercises holding each time for 1-2 seconds 6-8 times per set. This exercise can be repeated every two hours throughout the day.

Asses yourself. If the pain has decreased or pain has moved away from the leg or thigh and into the hip or buttock, this is an improvement. Even if the pain is increased in the back but relieved in the leg this is an improvement and a green light that you should continue this exercise. If your thigh or leg pain is worse, then stop right away.

 

Standing Extensions

Herniated Disc Put your Disc Back In & Prevent Herniated Discs

Standing Extensions To Put your Disc Back In

  • Stand straight and put your hands behind your hips with your fingers facing down.
  • Push your hands into your pelvis so that your lower back arches.
  • Don’t use your lower back muscles
  • These exercises can be done 6-8 times for 1-2 seconds. This exercise can be repeated every two hours throughout the day.

 

Stabilization Exercises: Prevent Your Disc From Coming Out By Having A Stable Spine.

 

#1 The Cat-Cow or Cat-Camel

Cat Cow Herniated Disc Put your Disc Back In & Prevent Herniated Discs

  • On all fours with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders.
  • Inhale and let your belly fall downwards toward the floor as you look up toward the ceiling for 2 seconds.
  • Exhale and arch your back up as far as it will go or until you feel pain. You should not feel pain with this exercise, otherwise you are going too high.
  • At the same time bend your neck forward and look toward your naval.

 

#2 Curl-Ups

Herniated Disc:Best ways to treat a Herniated Disc

Curl up to help strengthen your rectus abdominis i.e. Your Abs

  • To start, one foot is bent and the other is straight.
  • One forearm goes under your arch of your lower back to support it.
  • Other arm is supporting your head.
  • Your head and neck come up as one block, until your shoulder blades clear the floor.
  • Do three sets of 5 working your way up to 10. If it’s easy, then hold for a couple of breaths.

#3 Squats

How to Improve Posture-Chair Squats: Toronto Chiropractic Clinic

  • Stand in front of a chair as if you are going to sit on it.
  • Stand with your feet facing slightly more outward than your knee.
  • Make sure your butt comes out, and keep lowering you butt until you touch the chair.
  • Practice 3 sets of 10.
  • When you are stronger, take the chair away and go down until your knees are bent 90 degrees.

#4 Bird Dog

 

  • Get into a crawling position with your hands and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Harden your core by contracting your abs and lower back. This is called bracing.
  • Lift up your arm first. If this is easy, then lift your leg only. If that is easy, then lift the opposite legs and arms, for example right leg, left arm.
  • Want to make it tougher? Try lifting an arm and leg on the same side.
  • 3 sets of 10. If you are shaking a little or cannot balance quite right, you’re doing the right exercise for you, i.e.  lifting just the leg or arm might be easy, but lifting opposite arms and legs might put you off-balance a bit. Make sure you are stable before going to the advanced bird dog.

 

 

Tell us what you think in the comments below and like us on Facebook. This Toronto Downtown Chiropractor will answer all questions in the comments section.

 

References

 

1.  J Med Genet 2002;39:387-390 doi:10.1136/jmg.39.6.387


Author

Dr Ken Nakamura

Who is Dr. Ken? I’m a father, spouse, chiropractor, and I love what I do! I created Bodi Empowerment to bring you and everyone-else safe and effective methods for self-treatment by basing my articles on research to everything I can. Still many parts will be based on 18 years of experience, seminars, and collaboration with other health experts; which means you will get opinions as well. Sometimes my articles won’t agree with what is currently accepted, but I am not here to please everyone. I’m here to empower you through the knowledge that I give you. Dr. Ken works at Rebalance Sports Medicine in downtown, Toronto.

1,205 Responses to Herniated Disc Part 2: The Best Exercises For Your Herniated Disc
  • Tiju Mathew says:
    July 21, 2017 at 4:00 am

    Dr Ken,

    Last Oct 2016, I had pain in my lower back. It was something like a finger pushing into my lower spine. I consulted a doctor, took an X-Ray which indicated doubt for L5-S1 disc prolapse with lumbago. Then further a MRI was taken where the report tells L4-L5 and L5-S1 posterocentral protrusion. Took some rest and tablets and got relieved from the pain.

    Recently I had pain (muscle contraction rather) on my lower back. Consulted an ayurvedic doctor, based on the advise of my friend, underwent massage treatment.

    Though slightly over weight, I play soccer, badminton, weight lifting etc but due to this situation not as confident as I used to be. Kindly advice what could be the best exercise for me to strength my back so that i don’t have any repercussions.

    Tiju Mathew

  • Ras says:
    July 14, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    Hi Dr,
    My chiropractor keep telling me to go back to him every week for adjustment on my sacrom bone that inward causing my l5 pinch nerve, even though I don’t feel any significant improvement. Even when I return every 2 weeks, he said it’s too long, have to be every week. I’ve seen him more than 10 times.
    What do you think?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      July 15, 2017 at 8:19 am

      Sound like your chiropractor is a business person first then a chiropractor.

  • Victor .manrique says:
    July 10, 2017 at 4:23 am

    Thanks for the info i will try them

  • Jenny says:
    July 10, 2017 at 1:10 am

    I have a torn disc in lower back. My doctor recommends NOT walking. I feel like I need SOME KIND of excercise/cardio. Is it a bad idea to walk if your have a torn disc in your lower back? Also how will I know if it is healed? Another MRI?

    Thanks!

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      July 10, 2017 at 7:44 am

      Thanks for your question Jenny. For most people with a disc herniation, it is fine to walk, unless the problem is very acute or the disc is going out sideways. This is an opinion and not a recommendation.

      Hope that helps your possible “torn disc”.

  • Vishesh Sharma says:
    July 9, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Hello Dr. Ken,
    I sincerely thank you for your guidance. I had slip disc L5-S1 8 years back. since then pain is off and on. I do swimming for exercise.
    A couple of weeks ago all of a sudden pain started in my back radiating to right hip. I don’t remember doing anything wrong but still. surprisingly 4-5 months back I played cricket exerting myself but no pain in my back, I even though that I might have strengthened my back but..
    Sir, please guide me what exercise to do when its paining and what afterwards for regular maintenance.
    Thanks
    Vishesh

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      July 10, 2017 at 7:49 am

      Thanks for your question Vishesh. The exercises in the article may help you. That’s my opinion and not a recommendation. You need to do the exercises with a health professional familiar with the exercises.

      Hope that helps.

  • Haregua says:
    June 30, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Hello Dr. Is it good for me this exercise? I have L2-3 posterior disc problem. I really appreciate your help.

  • Tammy Martin says:
    June 26, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Hi, I’ve been told I have a slipped discs between L1-L2, L2-L3, L3-L4, L4-L5 and L5-S1 from the progression of my Ankylosing Spondylitis. For years I’ve adapted and adjusted, now I am waiting to see the physical therapist and told it’s urgent that I go. Besides the stretching what would be the best move to assist myself?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      June 28, 2017 at 3:24 am

      Thanks for your question Tammy. It’s important that you know if there is fusion of the above vertebrae. Also is you are in an active phase of anklylosing spondylitis. If active there is inflammation. Any mechanical exercises would make you worse so there is no point going during the active phase of AS. Knowing if there is fusion of the vertebrae will change the expectations of the physical therapist and the exercises given to you.

      Hope that helps your herniated disc and your AS. If you have any more questions for this downtown Toronto chiropractor I will do my best to give you a great answer. The above is an opinion and not a recommendation.

      • Tammy Martin says:
        June 29, 2017 at 9:50 am

        If I ever make plans to be in Toronto I will be sure to book a consultation!!! There are fusions happening, the MRI scans did shows signs of it. I’m not to active as you can guess, but I also am not mobile. 20 years later I still shovel snow, carry in the wood, cut the grass, paint the walls, anything and everything I can do to stay moving. I rarely take sick days at work, and I’ve learn to manage my AS and pain. I believe the internist is moving towards surgery and that physical therapy is just a stepping stone. Surgery is not an option for a lot of reasons but mostly I don’t want the down time and I have a young teenager with health issues, I don’t have time. Thank you for your reply!

        • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
          June 29, 2017 at 6:54 pm

          When I say active I mean: Is your AS ankylosing spondylitis in the inflammatory phase? If the AS is in the inflammatory stage or “active” then physical therapy will make you worse. ie. Most if not all exercises will make you worse. If you can do all those things like shovel snow, carry wood etc… then you are not in the inflammatory or “active” phase of AS. After 20 years you are likely fused in the lower back and or sacroiliac joint. With fusion, you can still improve mobility but it will be slow and limited. Good luck.

          Hope that helps. The above is an opinion and not a recommendation.

  • Cris says:
    June 26, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Thank you Dr. Nakamura! I sincerely appreciate your reply.
    I hesitate to see a chiropractor. Although I had been tempted.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      June 28, 2017 at 3:20 am

      You are welcome. Cris, there are bad chiropractors, business chiropractors and good chiropractors that care. Referrals will more likely get you in touch with a good chiropractor. Reviews often help but again no guarantee. It is easier to find a good medical doctor than a good chiropractor but the same rules apply. Nothing is guaranteed. Really the profession doesn’t matter. There are good, bad and business mechanics.

      Hope you find someone good to treat your herniated disc.

  • Adams Kunambi says:
    June 26, 2017 at 3:50 am

    Hello Dr. is it okay/safe to add planks (both sides and normal planks) on above exercises for a person with L5/S1 disc herniation?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      June 28, 2017 at 3:13 am

      Thanks for your question Kunambi. Yes for the vast majority of people it is safe but I cannot say that it is safe in your specific case as it is generic. This is an opinion and not a recommendation. Hope that helps your herniated disc. If you have any more questions for this downtown Toronto chiropractor I will do my best to answer your question.

  • Cris says:
    June 23, 2017 at 7:27 am

    I have bulging disc at
    L5
    S1
    Mild/moderate (left side)
    Since April 2012 and I have not been able to heal this. I was doing back extensions and ab exercises for 1 year solid and that didn’t help. Then back extensions and abs on/off which seemed to at least relieve it here/there.

    I have good days and bad days with different symptoms on/off, wet or burning left foot sensation, lower back pain, etc. Do I try the herniated exercises?

    Are there any vitamins that may help (B, B12, magnesium) or diet? I have also heard of turmeric supplements possibly helping as well. Would bulging disc cause or affect tinnitus (left side)? Also any suggestions on best ways to sleep?

    Thank you! Appreciate your assistance.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      June 24, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      Thanks for your question Cris. I have plenty of people tell me they are doing their exercises that are patients of mine. Even when I show them, explain it to them and get them to show me a set they come back the next appointment with a variation of the exercise. I’m saying most people don’t do the exercises properly. If you are doing what you learned in Yoga then it’s wrong. Also, the ab exercises often make things worse. Even if the extensions are done perfectly and frequently enough (another potential problem) you might be doing “ab” exercises that are making you worse.

      So you could be doing the exercises wrong. Your ab exercises could be making you worse or your posture could be bad enough like most people that your back gets quickly aggravated.

      This is an opinion and not a recommendation. If you have any questions for this downtown Toronto Chiropractor I will do my best to give you a great answer.

      Hope that helps your herniated disc.

  • Saurabh pal says:
    June 18, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Sir , my name is Saurabh.my age is 22 years.
    I have a little curve in lower back.it looks like so funny.it is lumber lordosis . I want to come back natural posture .plz sir help me.

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