Bulging discs, also known as herniated disks, can occur along any section of the spine, be it the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine, although cervical and lumbar disc herniation tend to be more common.
The wear and tear process that occurs as we age, loss of water content from the discs, poor posture, and back injury are some of the reasons why a disk may become herniated. When this happens, the nucleus pulposus, the inner content of the disc, slips through a crack that has formed in the outer shell of the disc, and impinges on nearby structures.
How Herniated Discs Affect You
When a disc becomes herniated, it can get into the space of other spinal structures, such as nerve roots and the spinal cord, placing pressure on them, which leads to back pain, neck pain, sciatica, and other issues.
How to Treat a Herniated Disc
There are multiple ways to manage and treat the pain that occurs as a result of a bulging disc. Classic treatments include:
- Physical therapy, where a physical therapist helps you remobilise your spine
- Painkiller medications, to temporarily lessen the pain
- Surgical intervention to correct the disc abnormality
Additionally, herniated discs have been shown to respond particularly well to something less invasive, namely physical exercise.
Exercises for Herniated Discs
Not all types of physical activities are recommended for disc problems, as there are some exercises to avoid because they can aggravate the already-existing problem. One such example is that on running, which is a high-impact exercise that can worsen pain in the back.
Other exercises such as the prone on elbows pose and back extensions (which require you to lie on your stomach use your core strength to lift your upper body) should be performed with caution as they may potentially place strain on your back.
Gentle exercises that focus on strengthening and stabilizing the back, as well as the core and abdominal muscles help provide additional support for your spine, reducing some of the pressure that is placed on it.
Exercises tend to vary depending on the region where the disc herniation occurred. That being said, exercises targeting disc herniation in the neck differ from those that target lower back disc issues. On top of that, performing exercises with the help of a spinal decompression orthopaedic device can provide far greater benefits than performing exercises without the help of such tools.
Backrack Spinal Decompression for Complete Back Pain Relief
If your disc herniation occurs in the neck, try the single or double leg glute bridge with the Backrack.
To perform either the single or double leg glute bridge, lay on the Backrack with your back in a neutral position, with your legs bent at the knees and your arms next to your body. Gently lift your hips, as your neck remains still on the rack. Hold the hips in that lifted position for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times or fewer if that feels comfortable to you.
For the single leg variation, have one leg bent and the other laying down in front of you. Push into the floor with your bent knee to lift your hips, while your neck stays still on the Backrack.
For disc herniation in the thoracic spine, the lean back and crunch on the Backrack are great for pain relief.
Start by laying with your hips in the central downward curvature of the rack, with your hands under your neck. Lean your head back slightly, returning to the starting position and performing a regular abdominal crunch straight afterwards. Return to the starting position and repeat a few times.
Examples of lower back disc exercises to relieve pain include the single or double leg raise on the Backrack.
For the double leg raise variation, start by lying on the Backrack in a neutral position with your knees bent and arms next to your body. Gently bring both legs to your chest as you hug them with both arms and hold them in that position for a few seconds. Release and return to the starting position. Repeat a few times.
What to Do If the Pain Persists
If your back pain persists, gets worse, or more symptoms appear, it is recommended that you seek medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional, in order to obtain a diagnosis and receive adequate care for your individual spinal problems.
Author: Spinal Backrack