How to Heal Herniated Disc with Easy Stretches

Herniated Disc

Performing physical therapy exercises(1) for a herniated disc is an excellent way to reduce pain and improve functionality. Mentioned are some of the best exercises for herniated disc:

1. Neck Stretches

This exercise helps relieve pain caused by a herniated disc near the neck.

  • Sit up straight on a chair. There should be no obstacle (like a high headrest or a wall) behind your head; you should have space to move your head backward.
  • Move your chin down towards your chest, and then back up and to the back, stretching the neck.
  • Come back to the neutral position, then tilt your head, taking your right ear toward the right shoulder and then the left ear toward the left shoulder.
  • Repeat this exercise for 10-15 reps.

Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions every day.

2. Seated Chair Stretch

exercises for herniated disc
Image:ShutterStock

This exercise helps people who have a herniated disk(2) in the lower spine. It helps strengthen the hamstring muscles letting you better support your core and back.

  • Sit down on a chair, placing one foot firmly on the floor, and the other stretched out straight with only the heel placed on the floor.
  • Straighten your back and then slowly lean forward over the extended leg. You should feel a stretch along the hamstring (opposite to the upper thigh) of the extended leg.
  • Hold this position for 15-30 seconds, or for as long as you can.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions every day.

[Read:  Acupuncture for Herniated Disc]

3. Towel Hamstring Stretch

This exercise has similar benefits as the seated chair stretch but offers a deeper stretch of the hamstrings.

  • Lie down flat on the floor or preferably on a yoga mat with your legs folded and knees up.
  • Lift one leg upward and wrap a towel around the foot of this leg.
  • Hold the towel and pull the leg toward the body. You should feel a stretch along the hamstring (opposite to the upper thigh) of the raised leg
  • Hold this position for 15-30 seconds.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions every day.

[Read: Exercises for Lower Back Pain Relief]

4. Back Flexion Stretch

This is one of the best back exercises for a herniated disc. It stretches the spine and back muscles providing relief from pain and strengthening the muscles.

  • Lie down on the floor or a yoga mat on your back.
  • Fold your knees upwards towards your chest and hold both knees toward the chest.
  • While you bring your knees towards your chest, lift your head off the ground and move it forward. Bring your knees and head as close as possible, until there is a comfortable stretch across the mid and low back.
  • Repeat this 10-15 times.

Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions every day.

5. Knee to Chest Stretch

exercises for herniated disc
Image:ShutterStock

Similar to the Back Flexion Stretch, this is again one of the best exercises for a herniated disc in the lower back. While the previous exercise worked out your entire back, this serves to gently work the muscles on the side of the body separately.

  • Lie down on the floor or a yoga mat on your back.
  • Your knees should be bent with both feet to the floor.
  • Place both your hands behind one knee and gently pull it towards your chest.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions every day.

6. Piriformis Muscle Stretch

This exercise helps stretch the piriformis muscle, which is a small muscle located deep in the hips. It helps relieve pain caused by a herniated disc in the lower spine.

  • Lie down on the floor or a yoga mat on your back.
  • Your knees should be bent with both feet to the floor.
  • Gently cross one leg over the other, resting your ankle on the bent knee.
  • Slowly pull the crossed leg toward the chest by holding the ankle until there is a stretch in the buttock.
  • Repeat on both sides.

Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions every day.

[Read: Little-Known Tips for Herniated Disc Pain Relief]

7. Yoga

Performing yoga is a great way to stretch and relax the spine and muscles in the back. One particular yoga pose that helps with a herniated disc is the Cat-Cow pose.

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  • Sit down on the floor (preferably on a yoga mat) on your hands and knees, palms to the ground.
  • Keep your back straight (parallel to the ground) and ensure your neck and head are in a relaxed position.
  • Inhale deeply, and as you do, arch your back down while gently raising your head upward. Hold for a moment.
  • Exhale, and as you do, pull in your abdominal muscles lifting your back upwards in the shape of an arch. Fold your neck downwards to keep it relaxed.
  • Repeat this 10 times.

3 sets of 10-15 repetitions every day.

Did You Know!

Close to 80% of individuals suffer from back pain during their lifetime, with disc herniation being the most frequent underlying cause.

Preventing Herniated Disc/Aggravated Symptoms

Take these steps to avoid getting a herniated disc or to avoid aggravating symptoms of you already have one. Heavy and rigorous exercise can often lead to herniation and worsen the condition. Avoid the following if you have a herniated disc:

  • Avoid exercises that involve heavy weights until you are healed.
  • Avoid high contact sports.
  • Avoid tasks that have a high impact on the spine, like skipping and jogging.
  • Gradually increase the intensity and duration of the exercises that are prescribed for you.

With the right care and exercise, you will be able to reduce the pain and slowly heal the herniated disc.


FAQs

1. Can a Herniated Disc Heal?

Through exercise and in severe cases through surgery, the symptoms of the herniated disc can be eliminated.

2. I Have a Herniated Disc. Do I Need Surgery?

In most cases, the answer is no. Unless you have unbearable pain, or if you’re body is not responding to exercise and injections, you do not need surgery. You can treat it with prescribed exercises.

3. How Is a Herniated Disc Diagnosed?

If you have pain in your back, a doctor will check for herniation through a physical examination and will sometimes ask for an MRI.

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