A herniated disc can produce pain that continues into the legs, which often extends to any of the 3 large muscles running along the back of the thighs from the pelvis. Known as the hamstrings, these muscles can become more resistant to pain when kept strong and flexible. Board-certified back physicians in Santa Monica want to share 3 simple stretches you can do to accomplish this goal.
1. Seated Chair Stretch
If you’re new to stretching or your mobility is limited, this stretch may benefit you. Start by sitting on a chair with another chair directly across from it. Complete the stretch by:
- Placing one foot on the chair in front of you for support and the other one on the floor
- Sitting up straight and leaning toward the leg on the chair
- Holding the stretch for about 15 to 30 seconds, then leaning forward before repeating with the other leg
2. Towel Stretch
Sometimes stretching while lying down can be more comfortable. If this is true for you, perform this stretch by:
- Lying on the floor with one leg kept flat
- Lifting the other leg straight up while contracting your abs
- Wrapping a towel or belt around the foot of the elevated leg and using it to gently ease your leg toward you
- Holding the position about 15 to 30 seconds once you feel a stretch
3. Wall Stretch
Give yourself some added support by using a wall or doorjamb as you stretch. Perform this stretch by:
- Lying on the floor adjacent to the wall or doorjamb
- Placing a leg against the wall with the knee bent and the other on the floor
- Resting your hips on the floor while straightening the leg against the wall
- Holding the leg against the wall for approximately 15 to 30 seconds before repeating with the other one
Only go as far as you can comfortably stretch when attempting any of these exercises. You can increase your flexibility as your hamstrings become stronger over time. Should you experience a flare from sciatic nerve pain while doing any of these exercises, take a break and apply some heat or ice. These stretches are fairly gentle, but it never hurts to check with your Santa Monica back doctor if you’re concerned about how much exercise you can safely do.
If pain related to a herniated disc is becoming too painful to bear, reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. Dr. Bae and his team of expert surgeons specialize in spinal fusion surgery and fusion alternatives like the lumbar disc replacement Santa Monica patients occasionally opt for. For more information and to schedule an in-person evaluation, call our office today at 310-828-7757.