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