Only those who experienced pain from a slipped disc would understand how debilitating it can be. However, there are different degrees, and some of them would improve after a series of rehabilitation exercises. You can also improve your symptoms by increasing your physical activity, strengthening your core muscles, and adopting a few exercises in your daily routine to speed up your healing process.
Home treatment for a slipped disc?
Treatment for a slipped disc often includes anti-inflammatory drugs, but you can also apply ice packs, and warm soaks on the affected area. They improve your blood circulation, help you relax your back muscles, and provide some relief to your painful symptoms. When your pain is reduced, and you can go back to your daily activities, it is recommended to perform a few exercises to strengthen your core and back muscles.
Several studies have confirmed that certain exercises and increasing your physical activity are both good ways to improve slipped disc symptoms. In all cases, you should avoid sitting for a very long time or standing on the same spot for an extended period of time.
If you’re trying to increase your physical activity as a part of your recovery, ask your doctor to check if your exercise routine is appropriate for you. In all cases, avoid heavy weightlifting, doing violent jerking or twisting movements, and be careful when performing daily activities such as gardening, which requires a lot of bending over.
Exercises for a slipped disc
Here is a list of exercises you can perform as a part of your recovery from a slipped disc:
- Lying glute stretch: This exercise is excellent to relax and decompress your back muscles. As a starting position, lay flat on your back with your knees extended and your arms on your sides. Raise one knee toward your chest and use your hands to support your knee while doing this. Hold the position for 30 seconds, go back to the original position, and repeat the same movement with the opposite leg.
- Pelvic Tilt: This exercise is thought to strengthen your thighs and glutes while decompressing your back and improving your posture. Your initial position is lying on your back with your knees slightly bent. With this starting position, you should lift up your torso while keeping your knees flat on the floor. If you find this exercise difficult or painful to do, you can lift your abdomen instead while keeping your buttocks against the floor. Your lower back will be arched at the end of the movement. Hold it for a few seconds and then go back to the initial position, pressing your abdominal muscles to flatten your back against the floor. Hold it for a few seconds and repeat the movement.
- Child’s pose: This is another helpful stretch to reduce tension on your lower back, which often aggravates the symptoms of a slipped disc. Kneel on the floor with your torso flexed forward, resting your chest on your thighs. Extend your arms forward and hold this position for half a minute or so.
- Towel stretch: This stretch is focused on your hamstrings, but as you perform the exercise, you will note how it works for your lower back as well. You will need a medium-sized towel to perform this exercise. As a starting position, lie on your back with your legs extended. Bend one of your knees to your chest and loop your towel to your foot. Extend your leg as you start feeling the stretch in your hamstring. In the process, you will also note how your back muscles release their tension and become decompressed. Hold it for a few seconds, and repeat with the opposite leg.
- Hanging spinal decompression: This is a very straightforward stretch for your entire spine, and it is meant to decompress and reduce tension throughout your back. You will need a pull-up bar or a safe bar that supports your body weight, and it’s higher than you. Grab the bar and let your body hang while relaxing your back muscles. As an alternative, you can also find a declined surface to lay your back on. This works as well, but be careful not to stay with your head declined for too long.
- Planks: If you find the above exercises easy to do, you might be prepared to perform planks as well. These might be challenging in some cases, so the advise is to listen to your body and try not to overdo. As a starting position, lay down with your chest to the floor, raise your torso supporting your weight with your forearms and the tip of your toes. Keep your spine straight and hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. It might seem easy to do, but reaching 1 minute might be quite difficult at first.
- Low-impact exercises: There are several low-impact exercises you can choose from, but swimming is probably one of the best. The advantage of aquatic exercise is that sinking and floating protect the articulations from sudden and violent movements. You can also try other low-impact exercises such as walking, biking or yoga. The best exercise for you will depend on your mobility and the severity of your pain, so it will be a good idea to ask your doctor for further guidance on your individual case if you’re not sure.
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Most patients suffering from a slipped disc are not used to exercise routines, but increasing physical activity is one of the ways to speed up your recovery. Your back pain may return, but if you keep an active lifestyle, it will be more likely to remain painless for a longer time and recover from your symptoms faster. So, even if it seems challenging at first, you will soon realize the effort is worth it.
Ariyoshi, m., Sonoda, k., Nagata, k., Mashima, t., Zenmyo, m., Paku, c., … & Akashi, h. (1999). Efficacy of aquatic exercises for patients with low-back pain. The Kurume medical journal, 46(2), 91-96.
Bakhtiary, A. H., Safavi-Farokhi, Z., & Rezasoltani, A. (2005). Lumbar stabilizing exercises improve activities of daily living in patients with lumbar disc herniation. Journal of Back and musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, 18(3-4), 55-60.
Gagne, A. R., & Hasson, S. M. (2010). Lumbar extension exercises in conjunction with mechanical traction for the management of a patient with a lumbar herniated disc. Physiotherapy theory and practice, 26(4), 256-266.