Each of the vertebrae in your back is cushioned by a pillow, of sorts. In medical terms, this pillow is called an intervertebral disc. Intervertebral discs allow the vertebrae to move without grinding bone-against-bone.
Unfortunately, car or work-related accidents, repetitive motion, chronic back strain, or a family history of disc herniation can cause discs to slide out of place. Here is a picture of a normal disc, next to one that is herniated.
In most cases, when a disc is herniated, it presses against a spinal nerve, which can cause significant pain and/or difficulty moving. Sound familiar? Your first step is to have a medical professional verify you have a herniated disc. Your second step is to find natural ways to relieve, and potentially heal, your disc. These herniated disc exercises can help:
PLEASE NOTE: You should never attempt any of these exercises without running them by your doctor and/or chiropractor first.
Herniated Disc Exercises
Exercise balls are handy for strengthening your core. The stronger your abdominal and lower back muscles are, the less prone you are to developing herniated discs. Exercise balls are affordable, and can often be found secondhand online or at thrift stores. This video demonstrates pain-free herniated disc exercises to help you heal using an exercise ball:
The McKenzie Exercise
In the western hemisphere, this exercise is called the McKenzie Exercise. In the eastern hemisphere, it is often called the Cobra Pose (or Bhujangasana, if you’re a Yoga guru). This pose helps to push your herniated disc forward (anteriorly) and extend the vetebrae/discs to relieve pressure from the nerve. As you become stronger, and more flexible, your herniated disc has the ability to de-herniate, and return to its natural position.
A Triple Whammy: The Hip Hike, Knee Pull, and Pelvic Lift
These exercises are a triple whammy that work to relieve the pressure from the disc, as well as to strengthen the lower back and abdominals. Are you noticing a trend here? The key to healing a herniated disc naturally is a combination of creating space (flexibility) between the vertebrae, combined with strengthening the abdominal and lower back muscles (aka: the core) in order to keep the spine in alignment. This keeps the discs where they should be (i.e. NOT bulging out of the vertebrae and into your poor, vulnerable spinal nerves).
These exercises are specifically designed to treat herniated, or bulging, discs. They will also help to relieve sciatic or general lower back pain. Please see our article about exercises for sciatic pain, to learn more about this treatment.
In addition to these exercises, sleeping on a high-quality mattress and using a, ensures your spine is supported while you sleep. The more you can do on your own to heal your herniated disc naturally, the less likely you will be to need pain medications and/or surgery. Happy healing!