Exercises to reduce the pain of Herniated Discs

Herniated disc is a common problem faced by individuals and it can be characterized by the slipping out of the soft jelly in the center of the discs past the outer exterior. It can be extremely painful and hard to deal with. Herniated disc can also lead to various other difficulties like back pain, shooting arm pain, tingling or numbness in the leg or arms and also neck pain. The treatment that is usually suggested to patients suffering from herniated discs is physiotherapy and not any kind of surgery.

However, there are many ways to ease out the pain of this condition, which includes gentle exercises, stretches, and various other activities. There is no specific one, but any disc in the spine can get herniated, and the most common one is at the lower back. The exercises differ depending on where the disc has herniated. It is usually suggested that the individual start small and later build up on the exercises so that the muscles that support the spine become healthy reducing the pressure on the spine, thus increasing the flexibility of the spine. This can contribute to reducing the risk of herniated disc recurring.

Yoga, swimming, walking and cycling can be included in the gentle activities for reducing the effects of herniated disc.

In cases of neck pains and shooting pain in the arm, neck stretches are the best and these include two movements while sitting erect on a chair: slowly moving the chin back and forth towards the chest and moving the head sidewards to touch the ears on the respective shoulders.

Hamstring exercises could be of two types and these help in strengthening the hamstring muscles, therefore reducing the effects if the slipped disc is in the lower spine.

Seated chair stretch involves sitting erect on a chair with one foot placed on the floor and the other extended out straight keeping the heel on the floor. The individual is then expected to lean forward over the extended leg still he or she experiences a stretch along the back of the upper thigh. It is expected to remain in the position for around 15-30 minutes and then practice the same several times, switching legs. Towel hamstring stretch involves lying flat on a yoga mat with one leg lifted up and wrapping the towel around the foot in the air. The individual is then expected to pull the leg towards the body and then remain in the position for 15- 20 minutes. The exercise must then be repeated switching legs.

In case of lower back pain, three kinds of stretches can help reduce the effects. It is important that a doctor be consulted before practicing such exercises. Back flexion stretch involves lying on the back and holding both knees towards the chest and moving the head forward.  The second kind of stretch is called Knee to chest stretch which involves lying on the back with the knees bent and both heels on the floor. The next step is pulling one knee towards the chest till a stretch is experienced.

Piriformis muscle is a small muscle located deep in the buttocks and stretching this muscle would help in relieving the lower back pain. The first step of Piriformis muscle stretch is lying down on the back with knees bent and heels on the floor.  The next step is to cross one leg over the other and placing the ankle on the bend knee. The crossed knee is then pulled forward towards the chest until a stretch in the buttocks is experienced. The same is repeated switching legs.

Care must be taken that certain kind of exercises are avoided in case of herniated disc. It is suggested that exercises involving lifting heavy objects, applying pressure on the back and repetitive vigorous activities are avoided. It is always better that all the above exercises are practiced in consultation with a doctor.