A herniated disc, sometimes referred to as a slipped or ruptured disc, is a painful condition that limits your range of motion and ability to perform certain types of activities. While some exercises can actually help a herniated disc, there are certain activities and exercises that you should avoid in order to prevent a worsening of your condition. In general, you should avoid any activities that cause pain or strain.
A herniated disc requires that you avoid any exercise that involves back-bending postures, according to Werner W.K. Hoeger and Sharon A. Hoeger in their book, "Fitness and Wellness." Backbends are common in yoga, Pilates and certain other types of stretching exercises. You may unconsciously perform back-bending motions while performing a tennis serve or reaching to catch a ball in baseball. Bending the back places excessive stress on your spine and causes further disc compression. Some common back-bending postures performed in yoga, Pilates and other forms of stretching exercises that should be avoided include Hero pose, Cradle pose and Swan stretch.
Exercises that involve simultaneously bending forward and twisting are contraindicated for disc herniation. Bending forward places pressure on your lumbar spine, and twisting and rotating movements can exacerbate this pressure and contraction. This is also true if you have a herniated disc in your neck, in which case you should avoid simultaneously bending and twisting your head.
As a general rule, strengthening your abdominal muscles is beneficial for preventing back pain, according to Spine Health. However, abdominal exercises that involve twisting or rotating your trunk during contractions, such as abdominal crunches with a twist, the Pilates exercise known as the Bicycle or oblique side crunches, should be avoided if you suffer from a herniated disc. Twisting your trunk while performing abdominal exercises places your spine in a compromised position and place unnecessary strain on your lower back.
Inversions are challenging poses in which you literally invert your body, using your muscle strength to support your body against the pull of gravity. Inversions are not recommended for patients suffering from disc herniation. Many of these poses, such as the yoga posture known as the Plow pose, place excessive strain on your back, neck and shoulders and should be avoided if you have a herniated disc.
- Fitness and Wellness; Werner W.K. Hoeger and Sharon Hoeger; 2010
- Spine-Health: Back Exercises and Abdominal Exercise Recommendations
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.