The pressure placed on the spine during certain exercises often negates any positive benefits if you’re living with a herniated disc. There are some common core and abdominal muscles that should either be avoided all together, or at least modified, according to board-certified spine doctors, if you want to minimize back pain while still getting regular exercise.
Despite being a standard ab exercise, crunches can be murder on your lower back. There’s a tendency to over-extend the curve of the lower back that can also make crunches an unintentionally painful experience. The American Council on Exercise recommends curl-ups as a suitable variation. Lift your shoulders while keeping your back flat on the floor with your abs tight.
The act of doing a sit-up motion pushes your curved spine against the floor, which is not good when you have discs likely to be placed in contact with nerves during the process. There’s also the fact that sit-ups promote poor posture. Ab-wheel rollers are an alternative involving the use of an ab-wheel or a barbell that you hold out in front of you while kneeling and extending yourself on the floor with your knees slightly bent as you go forward similar to doing a push-up.
Ab exercises that require some degree of twisting, as with abdominal exercises involving the use of a kettlebell or medicine ball, can make disc pain worse. This includes certain yoga moves.
If you use one of those back extension chairs at the gym, you’re unintentionally placing all the pressure on your lower spine. Instead, do “bird-dog” exercises where you get on all fours and extend an arm and opposing leg with your head in a neutral position to maintain spine alignment.
As with back extensions, side bends have the potential to further compress herniated discs and even damage adjacent healthy discs. Instead, opt for a side plank where you rest on your side and lean on your forearm with your elbow below your shoulder as you lift your hips from the floor while propped on your heels before switching sides after repeating the movement 6-10 times.
If back pain is affecting other facets of your life and you would like to learn more about treatments for back pain, both non-surgical and surgical, call The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration and speak with a reliable Santa Monica spine surgeon at (310) 828-7757 today and request an in-person consultation.