Herniated Disc VS Bulging Disc: The Truth About Disc Injuries

According to SpineUniverse, disc injuries are so common that 80% of people will suffer a slipped or ruptured disc at least once in their lifetime. What’s interesting about that percentage though is that although a large amount of these people have a disc injury of some sort, not all of them experience pain. So, just because you’ve been “diagnosed” with a disc issue doesn’t mean it’s causing you back pain (thanks Peter O’ Sullivan). In fact, a very small percentage of people experience back pain from a disc injury.

Back Pain and Disc Injuries: Not as Common as You’d Think

What then, causes that back pain? It’s complex and partially rooted in our belief systems around pain. If you’ve been told you have a disc injury, you’re probably more likely to build up a pain belief system around this area of your body. You may protect your back like it’s damaged or hurt or develop a rigid posture pattern. In reality, you have everything you need (yourself!) to be able to function in everyday life and do what you love even with a disc injury. 

What needs to happen next is to get to the root cause of this injury. How do you do that? It may be complex, but you need to learn your body, how you move, how you hold tension in certain areas, your movement patterns, your posture, your muscle imbalances, etc. You need to address your movement and your mindset.

Bulging and Herniated Discs Explained 

Bulging and Herniated Discs Explained

Think of the discs in your spine as jelly doughnuts (focus now). They have an outer layer of cartilage (doughy stuff) that surrounds softer cartilage in the center (jelly), like a jelly doughnut. Overtime, your discs’ cartilage can get stiff, which causes the outer layer of the disc to bulge out around its circumference.

A herniated disc is like a jelly doughnut with a hole or tear. This hole in the outer layer of cartilage allows some of the softer cartilage to protrude out of the disc. A herniated disc is more likely to cause pain as it protrudes more and can irritate nerve roots. This irritation stems from compression of the nerve or painful inflammation of the nerve.

Common Causes of Bulging and Herniated Discs

There are many common causes of bulging discs, including poor body mechanics and bad posture, which puts stress on your spinal discs. A disc injury can also happen if you do repetitive motions often (this can be linked to your job) and improperly. You can also get a bulged disc from not learning proper lifting techniques as well. 

You can get a herniated disc the same way, by incorrectly lifting a heavy object, sitting, or standing for too long in the same position, improper posture, and twisting your body wrong. 

Fortunately, you can address these injuries and fix them, FOR GOOD.

Disc Injury? Top Exercise for Disc Injury and Lower Back Pain

In our experience (as a chiropractor and running MoveU) people with disc injuries often have poor posture, rigid movement patters, and possibly a muscle imbalance. Many are in a posterior pelvic tilt much of their day. This leads to weak glutes and a weak a core, which adds additional stress to the discs in between the vertebrae in the spine. To fix this, you need to learn how to get into a neutral pelvic position as well as how to properly activate your glutes and your abdominal muscles. Many people don’t know what that means, so we’re going to help you out.

Hip Hinge

To be able to lead a healthy life without any back pain or disc issues, you’re going to need to learn how to hip hinge! This is the best way to bend over and pick something off the ground to ensure you’re not hurting your back. Here’s how to do a proper hip hinge:

  • Stand with your feet a little over shoulder-width apart and find a neutral position for your pelvis. 

  • Push your hips and butt back keeping your core engaged. 

  • Lower your torso down while keeping a slight bend in your knees.

  • Remember this is a hip hinge, not a squat. 

  • Return to the starting position by squeezing your glutes.

When Should You Hip Hinge?

To reduce your risk of injury, be sure to hip hinge anytime you bend over with both of your feet planted into the ground. Also, please learn to hip hinge before hitting the gym and lifting heavy to not destroy your back. Some common gym exercises that require a hip hinge, include deadlifts, kettlebell deadlifts, single leg RDL, barbell RDL, good morning, Bulgarian split squat, skater squat, and kettlebell swing. 

Hip Hinge

If you need more help with the hip hinge or want to see more videos on how to find your neutral pelvic position, head over to the MoveU Membership today.

How Hip Hinging and Body Awareness Can Help with Back Pain 

Your entire body is connected, so when you start to address how your entire body moves, you will learn how to reduce back pain. If you have a disc injury, you need to address more than just your lower back, which is why we explained the importance of the hip hinge above. You also need to learn how to properly use your feet and shoulders as well though too, which is why the MoveU program is such an effective tool for helping you fix all your injuries. Fixing your mindset around your pain and not choosing a pain belief mindset also helps. You can still do your favorite activities with a disc injury! In fact, we’ve had many clients who have come through our program fix their disc injury without surgery!

If anyone has told you not to do an exercise or hobby you love due to a disc injury, don’t listen to them! Learn how to control your body in every single movement that you do throughout the day and take back your agency instead.

Enroll in the MoveU Membership today to fix your injuries and lead a healthy life doing the activities you love the most.

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