There’s a number of exercises you’ll want to avoid if you have an herniated disc or lumbar degenerative disc disease, especially in your lower back.
It would take forever to list all of them, so I will rather explain why you need to avoid specific exercises and Yoga poses if you have a herniated disc, with examples images instead so you can recognize them.
Avoid yoga poses & exercises that requires twisting of the spine
For a herniated disc located in the lower back (say L4-L5) twisting your spine and holding will put more pressure on the disc and that will increase the pain and the inflammation in the lower back.
Ardha Matsyendrasana Yoga pose requires you to twist your spine and hold, which is something you want to avoid if you have a herniated disc.
This stretch is excellent to improve the flexibility of the spine and to strengthen the lower back muscles, but it requires a significant twisting of the spine: avoid this exercise if you have a herniated lumbar disc
Avoid one leg balancing exercises
If you have a herniated discs, there are two reasons why you should avoid one leg balancing exercises.
- The efforts you’ll need to make with your pelvis (and thus lower back area) to keep your balance.
It’s a lot of pressure on the vertebral discs. If they’re healthy, the vertebral discs discs can handle the pressure but if one of them is not, it’s going to suffer, and so will you.
- Sciatica is a symptom often associated with herniated disc and as you probably know, the sciatic nerve starts in the lower back and then splits and continues down to the tip of the toes of each leg.
The pressure applied by the herniated disc on the sciatic nerve leads to pain and numbness, tingling, weakness in the leg or the foot.
If the sciatic nerve has suffered from compression, It’s even unlikely that you’ll be able to keep that pose for more than a few seconds but if you can, you’re not going to favor your self- recovery
Avoid exercises & Yoga poses the require bending forward
Bending forward will also increase the pressure in the lower back.
Again, this is something you want to avoid if you have a herniated disc, for similar reasons as those listed above.
The pose on this image (Downward facing dog) is recommended if you have an healthy back, not if you have a bad back.
Avoid exercises for back strength and muscle Gain
Strength or muscles gain exercises are not recommended if you have a herniated lumbar disc.
They are useful for a healthy back and are the best way to prevent back problems, but when an intervertebral disc is injured, it’s just too late.
Avoid crunches & sits-ups
Exercices to keep a flat belly will have to wait for better days.
As for the muscle building exercises mentioned above, crunches should have been done before: six-pack abs help prevent back pain but now that the damage is done, it is better to avoid them, otherwise the situation will get worse.
Be patient & optimistic
Your condition will improve eventually: a herniated disc heals and there is a good chance that sooner or later you will be able to do the above exercises again.
In the meantime, take it easy. Stick to exercises that are recommended for herniated discs: this will prevent you from hurting yourself badly and delay the healing process.