Here we’ll demonstrate some bulging disc exercises and stretches you can do to relieve and expedite healing. There are different levels of disc bulging which is a generic term. While every disc bulges to some degree because of their function, the issue is whether there is any damage or injury to the tissue.
The other issue is whether a nerve has been pinched or otherwise damaged by the injury. That is what brings attention to the spinal anomaly to begin with. The exercises shown here are designed to help with actual repair, and to help relieve pain.
These are exercises that can be done at home with minimal equipment or space.
The best candidates for these exercises are people who have just recently experienced the disc injury, and can use them to bring the disc back to normal.
Bulging Disc Exercises For Flexion
These first movements specifically work on getting the bulging material to gravitate back towards the center of the spine.
First is an exercise to relieve pressure on the lower back spinal column.
- Lying flat on your back grab your legs behind your knees with both hands.
- Pull up on both legs to a natural stopping point.
- Pull very tight to get a good stretch in the back.
- Return to the starting position.
Start by doing 10-12 repetitions of this exercise
The second exercise for a bulging disc is done on an exercise ball.
This exercise is performed using the weight of your torso to stretch and extend the spinal vertebrae.
- Lie face down across the ball with the injured disc directly above the ball. (Shown as a lower back disc injury exercise here)
- Extend your arms out in front of your head.
- Extend your legs fully out in back.
- Relax your back and allow your upper body and legs to naturally stretch your back. You should feel the stretch directly down the center of your spine.
You can lie this way for a couple of minutes or pull your arms and legs in and out allowing the movement to stretch and return. Both methods work for relief.
Eventual disc herniations from injury or wear are either on the left or right in the spinal column. This is because there is a tough, vertebral ligament that connects the vertebrae together. This runs down the center of the spinal column, naturally pushing the disc out to the sides when injured.
As a consequence of this location of bulging herniation, an exercise that allows relief and a pumping action to directly affect the weakened disc is a side and anterior flexion.
- Stand straight up.
- Stretch the arm on the side of the injured disc straight up.
- Holding the arm in place, bend slowly to the opposite side of the injured disc.
- Still holding the arm in place, bend slowly forward, while in the side position.
- Return to the starting position.
This allows the spinal vertebrae to open and close directly targeting the injury. It provides relief of pressure and a pumping action to bring the disc eventually back into alignment.
As with any injury, you must pay attention to the pain level when doing these exercises. If they result in increased pain, hold off until it subsides. Ice your back periodically for a few days until the pain is decreased and exercise is advantageous to your comfort.
After the exercises above have been used for a few days, you may want to proceed to other types of exercises to further increase your progress.
Bulging Disc Exercises For Extension
Extension exercises work in an opposite manner of flexion exercises. These work to proactively “push” the injured disc area back into place rather than emphasizing impingement relief.
The first exercise is done from a standing position to start.
- Place your palms behind your lower back.
- Push out and arch your back very slowly.
- Push to a natural extension stopping position.
- Come back slowly to a starting position.
Do this several times, each time being careful to do it slowly and steadily
A supplemental or alternative extension exercise
- Lie on a flat surface, face down.
- Pull your hands together to your chest with your palms down on the surface.
- Keeping your hips and legs stationary, push up, bending back at the waist.
- Hold the extended position for a few seconds.
- Lower back to the starting position.
You can start doing this exercise from 5 – 10 repetitions.
With extension exercises, start very slowly only doing a few at a time. If there is significant pain, stop, ice the back and wait until the pain level is down to where you can do the exercises comfortably.
In summary this should be a combination of initial periodic ice on the back for a few days, followed by a period of flexion exercises, then to extension exercises.
This is common home treatment for this type injury or condition. That said, for bulging disc exercises as with any other self therapy, check with your physician first before proceeding.