Having symptoms of a lumbar herniated disc can be frustrating to live with, especially when it comes to exercise. Symptoms include numbness and tingling in the legs, lack of strength, and back pain. Here are some tips to better your exercise with the condition of lumbar herniated disc.
1. Avoid “Good Mornings”
Nothing could be further from a good morning with this weight-lifting exercise. Even if the good morning is performed by someone without a disc herniation, it could lead to problems. In a good morning, weight is placed on the shoulders, similar to when performing a traditional squat. The next step is to bend forward at the hips and allow your chest to drop toward the floor while maintaining a straight spine and legs. The exercise is a problem because it places a large working load on the lower back.
A better alternative would be a “waiter’s bow.” It involves bending forward from your hips, gently placing your hands on a bed, and allowing your body to rock back slightly. Always maintain the natural curve in your lower back while doing this stretch—never let your lower back flatten or arch upward. When returning to standing, squeeze your buttocks and drive your hips forward, rather than arching your back and lifting your torso. This can be a valuable exercise to re-learn how to use the buttock muscles, rather than the low back, in order to stand. This version of a waiter’s bow exercise is also gentle as it supports your torso through placing your hands on the bed. If you want to increase the difficulty, place an elastic band around your hips and anchor the opposite end on something (such as a door knob) behind you so your hips must work against resistance when driving them forward and standing up.
2. Avoid a Standing Hamstring Stretch
Yes, it is important to stretch your hamstrings daily, but the common approach of “stand and reach for your toes” could cause serious issues when dealing with a herniation. The problem is that the stretch allows the back to compensate and bend forward, placing unnecessary stress on the front half of the disc. Instead, lie down on the floor near a doorway, straightening—as much as you can—the leg you will not be stretching through the opening. Next, place the leg you will stretch leaning up along the door frame. The closer you get to the wall, the more intense the stretch. A common issue with stretching is that people go too aggressively. Make the stretch mild, or you could cause more harm than good.