Press Up

How to Treat Your Lower Back Disc Pain – Part I

In Blog by Andrew Dettelbach5 Comments

Have you been diagnosed with a lower back disc injury, or do you believe that you might have one? Lower back disc pain is definitely a nuisance, but with the right care, it can be resolved rather quickly without surgery. If you read the blog “Diagnosing the 3 Types of Lower Back Pain”, then I am assuming my description of how a disc injury feels has led you here. If you are experiencing sciatica with your disc pain, then you have come to the right place. As someone who suffered from a 10mm herniation to the L4/L5 disc years ago, and is now pain-free without having undergone surgery, I have an understanding of your current state of pain. My lower back disc will always be damaged, but with proper posture, you can learn to prevent flare-ups, allow the disc to heal, and live pain-free.

Half of our patients suffer from some sort of lower back disc pain. The following exercises are designed to reduce pain and strengthen the glutes and core. In Part 2 of this blog, I will cover more advanced pain relief, strengthening, and postural exercises.

Press Up

Press UpThis is a classic exercise for disc patients. As shown in the image to the right, you will lie on your belly, put your hands flat on the floor and straighten your arms, keeping your pelvis on the floor. Do 10-20 repetitions 3-5x a day. For some disc patients, this can be extremely painful. If it is too painful, move your hands further above your head so that when you straighten them, you don’t extend as high. Expect to have 4 out of 10 pain during this exercise if you are suffering from a herniation and sciatica. This will subside over the coming weeks.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip Flexor StretchThe hip flexor muscles will compress your injured disc when they are tight. This stretch is a MUST and will definitely help to reduce your disc pain over time. Begin this stretch as shown to the right, with the hips tucked under, flattening the spine. Reach high overhead and take deep breathes. You should feel a stretch in the front of your hip and quadriceps on the leg that is down. Hold for 2 minutes on each side.

Roll Up

Core strength is essential for reducing your lower back disc pain. Start this exercise lying flat on the floor with your knees bent. Tuck your hips so that your lower back is completely flat against the floor. Roll your chest off the floor slightly, keeping your shoulders back and the arms and head relaxed. Hold this position for 1 minute. Take very controlled deep breaths through the nose coupled with forceful exhales through the mouth like you are blowing out candles on a cake. Hold for 1 minute and repeat 3 times. This exercise is only painful for disc patients if they do not keep their hips tucked under and their back flat (demonstrated in the far left image below)!

  Roll Up Exercise

Bridge

The bridge is excellent for strengthening the glutes. Put a resistance band or a belt right below your knees and, while keeping the same flat back positioning as in the “Roll Up,” lift your hips off the ground. Do not use your lower back to lift you off the ground, as this may aggravate the disc and target the incorrect muscles. Complete 20 repetitions with a 3 second hold at the top. Repeat for 3 sets.

 Bridge

Bird Dog

This is another classic exercise to strengthen numerous muscles in the lower back. Start on your hands and knees and lift an opposite arm and leg. Keep your back neutral, being careful to not over extend. To ensure you are doing this properly, place a half-filled water bottle on your lower back and make sure that the bottle and the water inside of it barely move. Do 10-15 repetitions per side. If you are struggling with this, only lift your leg and keep your hands on the floor.

Bird Dog

If you have any questions about any of these exercises, leave a comment below or email us at info@moveu.com. We are always happy to help clarify any questions you may have!

Comments

  1. I have two herniated discs at L4/L5 and L5/S1. Over the years of misdiagnosis and poor advice I was repeatedly told not to exercise. The only activity I was approved to do was walk. With my recent flare up becoming unbearable I found your website. I am experiencing some pain/discomfort anytime I move my pelvis out of the neutral position. Is this something I should gently push through or find other exercises to substitute in? I am eager to teach my body how to core brace, but for now it’s quite painful to do.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Danielle,

      I too was told not to exercise after my massive herniation at L4/5, but that is NEVER a good thing to do. Keep the body moving and strengthening! I wonder how you are doing your racing??? It RARELY hurts people and is meant to keep you in the neutral position that you described. Core bracing has saved my life and hundreds of our patients. Utilize it to keep your spine neutral while your discs heal. Slowly play with flexing, extending, and rotating the spine over time (months), but live your life with the neutral spine for now.

      I wrote the MoveU Method to teach you how to do all of this! Check it out: https://moveumethod.com/p/phase-1

      – Andrew Dettelbach

  2. Andrew,
    My repeat MRI results showed that my herniation at L5/S1 has progressed to fully obliterating the space on the left side of my spinal canal since last year. I truly wish I had found you guys sooner because I have been advised by many people at this point that surgery would be my best option for recovery. I’m still hoping to avoid it at all costs, but it seems inevitable right now.

    I’m going to tell everyone I know about this site so that they will have the proper tools to never land in the position I am in now.

    Thanks again!
    Danielle

  3. I damaged my lower back while squatting over 110kg a few years ago, I was told at the time I had bulging discs in my back and I was on the couch for 2 weeks at the time.I now regularly get flare ups lasting days which usually occur from lifting something at work but I’m never lifting anything really heavy( I don’t do any weight lifting now). What I find really painful at these times is to actually straighten myself up with the pain that’s their, any tips

    1. Hi Richard,

      You can learn to move better and live pain-free. The MoveU Program is a step-by-step online exercise program to transform your movement and accelerate your journey back to a pain-free life. Learn more about the method by registering and attending a free live webinar http://www.moveu.com/webinar.

      Best,
      Ann
      MoveU

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