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Safe Exercises To Do With a Herniated Disc 

Last updated: May 16, 2022

When you suffer from a herniated disc, exercise can be one of the best ways to manage your pain and speed up your recovery. However, not all exercises are safe for people with this condition.

In this blog post, we will teach you all the safe exercises to do with a herniated disc and how to complete them without aggravating your injury. We will also discuss the benefits of each exercise so that you can see why it is important to add them to your routine.

Neck Exercises

Since the spinal cord runs the entire length of your body, it is important to take care of your neck if you have a herniated disc. These exercises will help to strengthen the muscles in your neck and improve your range of motion.

Neck Spirals

This exercise is simple to complete but you might want to be sitting down because it can cause some people to become dizzy.

You'll start by moving your head slowly in a clockwise direction, then you'll do the same thing but in a counter-clockwise direction.

You should only go as far as you can without causing pain. These are great as whiplash treatment exercises.

This exercise is good for improving range of motion and flexibility in your neck.


Even easier to do than the neck spirals, in this exercise you will simply tilt your head to the left and then to the right.

You should only go as far as you can without causing pain.

If you want a little extra stretch, use the opposite hand your head is leaning towards and use it to push down on your head very lightly.

Up and Down

This is the same exercise as the left-to-right except you'll be going up and down with your head.

Start by tilting your head back, then bringing it forward so that your chin touches your chest.

Again, you should only go as far as you can without causing pain, and if you want to get a deeper stretch get your hands involved and move them forward when you look down and behind you when you look up.

Hamstring Exercises

By loosening the muscles around the hamstring, you can take some of the pressure off of your lower back.

These thoracic disc herniation exercises will help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your legs so that they can better support your spine.

Seated Stretches

By using a chair you can complete several different exercises that will all have the same effect.

One popular exercise for herniated disc while seating is putting one of your legs straight out in front of you while the other is at a 90-degree angle.

Go ahead and bend at the waistline forward till your chest is as close to your legs as possible.

You'll feel a deep stretch in your hamstring without feeling like you are going too far.

Towel Stretch

Another way to stretch your hamstring is by laying flat on the floor and having an old towel nearby.

You'll raise one leg up and place the towel around the arch of your foot.

Gently pull on both ends of the towel till you feel a stretch in your hamstring, then hold it for 30 seconds to a minute before repeating with the other leg.

Low Back Exercises

A herniated disc can cause a lot of pain in your lower back and it can be difficult to find exercises that don't make the pain worse.

The following thoracic back pain exercises are all gentle enough for people with this condition but still effective at strengthening the muscles in your lower back.

Back Flexion

This stretch involves laying on your back so make sure you have a soft surface or some kind of yoga mat to make yourself comfortable.

Left up your legs and bring them towards your chest, then use your hands to grab hold of your knees and pull them in as close as you can.

You should feel a stretch in your lower back but if you feel any pain stop immediately. You can also lift your head to meet your knees if you aren't experiencing any pain.

Knee to Chest

This stretching exercise also involves laying flat on the ground.

Once you are in a fully lying positions, bring one knee up to your chest and hold it there with both hands.

You should feel a stretch in your lower back on one side of your back in particular. Move to the other leg and repeat as needed.

This exercise is very similar to the back flexion except you are only using one leg at a time for more control.

Piriformis Stretch

This exercise requires slightly more flexibility but it can also feel like a deeper stretch.

You'll start with your back flat on the ground and your knees bent so that your feet are also flat on the ground.

Then, take your right ankle and place it over your left knee.

Use both of your hands to grab hold of your left thigh and pull it towards you. You should feel a stretch in the glute muscle on the right side.

If you don't feel anything, try readjusting until you do. Once you've found the spot, hold it for 30 seconds to a minute and then switch sides.


What exercises make a herniated disc worse?

Avoid crunches, dead-lifts, or any heavy weights when experiencing a herniated disc because it could further aggravate the injury.

What activities should you avoid with a herniated disc?

You should avoid any activities that put strain or pressure on your lower back. This includes things like lifting heavy objects, sitting for long periods of time, or standing for too long without taking a break.

Can hernia cause erectile dysfunction?

Hernias can make erections and orgasms very painful which, over time, can cause erectile dysfunction.


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