Yoga for herniated disc in lower back: The Cat & Cow stretch

If you suffer from a herniated disc in your lower back, the popular Cat & Cow Yoga stretch can bring you some relief.
The Cat & Cow poses are among the few yoga postures recommended for herniated disc condition.

Cat & Cow is also the most popular stretches for herniated disc, so much so that during your sessions with the physiotherapist or chiropractor, there is a good chance that he or she will impose them on you, and show you how to practice them at home, once or several times a day, depending on what your back allows you to do.

This Yoga stretch is a 100% safe
Cat & Cow Yoga Stretch is safe if you have a herniatied or slipped disc in your lower back.
Of course it is up to you to practice it gently but it is a stretch that does not require any unusual twisting or movement of the spine.

Jump to the Yoga poses you should avoid with a herniated disc in the lower back section to understand which types of poses you need to avoid ans why, it you have a disc condition.

What’s more, it is the pelvis that controls the movement and not the back. So you will not be using your back muscles to perform the movements. The spine just follows the movements of the pelvis back and forth in a smooth and natural fashion.

It just works…

In addition to being safe, Cat & Cow stretching is highly recommended because it allows you to exercise despite the difficulties that one or more lumbar disc herniations can result in.

When affected by lumbar disc herniation, the pain can be so intense that it forces you to avoid moving, and that’s exactly what you shouldn’t do.
Avoid standing still, as not moving will only increase the pain and delay the healing process.

Yoga for herniated Disc: Cat & Cow stretch step by step

By the way, they say Cat & Cow stretch but it’s actually Cow first. 😉

Start on all fours, keep your hands perpendicular to your shoulders and your knees perpendicular to your hips.Look down to the ground. (Kind of a tabletop position.)

Feel free to use a pillow or a blanket under your knees to be more at ease.

And let’s go into a Cow pose.

Yoga for herniated disc: Cow pose

Yoga for lumbar disc herniation: the cow pose
  1. Inhale
  2. Butt up, tilt your pelvis backwards
  3. Belly falls down
  4. Shoulders roll back
  5. Extend head backwards

Tilting your hips forward will automatically increase the curvature in your lower back and give you the nice stretch that you want while bringing you head up will naturally make the shoulders slightly lower and there we go:
we are in a cow pose.

If you have a herniated cervical disc or neck pain DO NOT make this movement with your head: keep looking forward or a little lower.

And let’s go into a Cat pose.

Yoga for herniated disc: Cat pose

Yoga for lumbar disc herniation: the cat pose

Cat pose is just as simple as “reversing” Cow pose.

  1. Exhale
  2. Butt down, tilt pelvis forward
  3. Carve your belly in
  4. Bring your head down
  5. Move your back up, rounding your shoulders
  6. Push your chest up

You know…just like a cat

Yoga For henriated disc: Cat & Cow stretch video

Following the directions above:

  1. Start on all fours, from a tabletop position
  2. Inhale, go into Cow pose
  3. Exhale, go into Cat pose
  4. Repeat 10 to 15 times

The Cat & Cow stretch is recommended by PT’s & chiropractors for lumbar disc herniation or slipped disc treatment.
It provides a massage of the spine while stretching the back and torso.

Both poses are excellent to keep your back flexible and in good shape, wether or not you are suffering from herniated or slipped disc condition.

Yoga poses to avoid with herniated disc

There’s a number of Yoga poses you want to avoid if you have an herniated disc, 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 Yoga poses if you have a herniated disc, with examples images instead.

Avoid twisting your spine

yoga pose to avoid with herniated disc
Avoid Yoga poses that require you to twist your spine

Ardha Matsyendrasana requires you to twist your soine and hold, which is something you do not want to do if you have a herniated disc.

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 either increase the pain and the inflammation in the lower back.

Avoid one leg balancing Yoga poses

yoga one leg balancing pose
Avoid one leg balancing Yoga poses

If you have a herniated discs, there are two reasons why you should avoid one leg balancing Yoga poses.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 Yoga poses the require bending forward

Yoga for the back: downward facing dog pose
Avoid Yoga poses that 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.

Cet article est également disponible en : French

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