If you are dealing with back pains associated with a slipped or herniated disc, you know just how debilitating it can be. Not only is movement restricted, but the pain can make even the simplest tasks seem impossible. However, there are exercises that can help ease the pain and improve your quality of life. In this post, we will discuss some of the best exercises for people suffering from a slipped disc. Keep reading to learn more!
“Should I see my doctor or try some natural remedies first before getting surgery?”
Everyone talks about having a slipped disc, but nobody talks about what to do about it. We wanted to offer you three very basic exercises that can help you with your slipped disc.
“Slipped” discs can be a serious and dangerous situation. The spine is like an old stack of tripods that don’t fit together very well, making it easy for one part to pop out between others with less pressure than what’s put on them. They rely on the ligaments around that structure to hold it together.
Imagine the spine to be like a big slinky. Since it’s S-shaped, each one puts stress on the next one over. A kink in a slinky is like when one part of it isn’t stable. This might happen if the ligaments have loosened or if the muscles are out of coordination.
Every time your body moves, it’s like you’ve got a little marble and two springs on top of each other. That one segment is not going to hold its stability. Over time, that disc is going to see more stress, Eventually, it will give away and cause a tear in the ring around that disc. This is now what is colloquially called a “slipped” disc.
It’s not going to just slip out your back and hit the person behind you if you bend over. It’s typically just a segment that has lost its stability. Your body is incredibly resilient and it’s got redundancy to cover the ground. This means that there is still something we can do to control movement at the spine.
If you have a ligament that is unstable and it keeps slipping, the muscles will grip harder to try to hold it in place. That is why we recommend physical therapy or exercise. We want to build up the muscle strength and stamina around that area so that the ligament can heal itself if they’re capable of doing so. If otherwise, then we can get involved and do interventional treatments to help stabilize that.
The McGill Three
Stuart McGill is one of the foremost biomechanics researchers in the lumbar spine. He’s figured out over decades of research and working with people, this great way that can help to stabilize a spine. These back exercises help people be out of pain, improve their function, and get back to doing the things they want to do.
Whether you’re an elite athlete or just trying to get through your day, these exercises will help and work the same.
Locating the oblique muscles
When you’re trying to do any of these exercises, we need it so that you can use your oblique muscles. These are the muscles that wrap around your spine. When we try to contract them in a different way, we need pressure from below the ribs and above the hip bone. You need to have a contraction and push outwards laterally to make the oblique muscles contract.
For most people, it’s not an intuitive thing. Keep in mind that the more you’ve had a back injury, the harder it is to wake these muscles up because your body has gotten good at using other muscles to help lock things in place and we’re going to reverse this.
One of the things that’ll probably be the easiest way to get these muscles located is to place your fingers under the ribs and cough. This way, you naturally push them out. Do it a couple of times and then try to do it without coughing.
Then in this position, what you need to do is be able to push out, hold your breath and then try talking or count out loud to ten. This is necessary because we aim to make this a reflex that you don’t have to think about.
When you’re doing these exercises, you have to have this lateral pressure outward and you can’t be holding your breath. That’s why talking is so important. That’s step one and the most important thing you need to pay attention to when you’re doing these exercises.
The McGill Curl Up
It’s important to do the curl-up correctly, or you could end up doing more harm than good. Here’s how to do the McGill Curl Up:
1. Lie on your back on a firm surface with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. You need to stabilize one pelvis by just locking it in place. You can do this by straightening out one leg. The heel should be pushing down into the ground, and reach the leg lengthwise.
2. Place your hands palm-down on the ground beside you. The important thing is to not push your body up through your hands. Just relax them on the sides.
3. Use your abdominal muscles to curl your head, shoulders, and upper back off the ground. Hold this position for a count of 10. This is not a sit-up. This is a hold that creates a trunk crunch. Make sure to have your hands by the sides and elbows up in the air.
4. Return to the starting position and repeat the exercise 10 times.
You can expect to experience a little bit of shaking while doing this exercise. How you would do this is three sets of 10 with one side. Take about a breath in between each one, then switch legs. Do three sets of 10 counting out loud every single time.
The Bird Dog
This is often done in a lot of yoga classes. When people normally do this in a yoga class, you’ll see all sorts of different movements and it’s not bad. But right now, if we’re trying to create greater stiffness, if in your trunk if your body’s moving.
1. Start on all fours, with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
2. Keeping your back straight, push out and reach your right arm forward, and make a big fist. When you do this, you are going to create stiffness throughout all of the trunk, using the lat muscles that connect down to the buttock. Hold this position and count to 10 out loud.
3. When you’re doing this for the first time, do three sets of 10 on one arm first and then three sets of 10 on the other side.
4. After you feel like you can do that comfortably, keep the arms still down on the floor and reach the leg back. Make sure that the pelvis doesn’t move. Reach your heel straight back, almost like you’re trying to push over a wall with a flat foot. Remember, we’re keeping the stiffness through the trunk and counting out loud again.
5. After you feel competent with this, doing three sets of 10 on both sides, we blend it all so that we’re doing right and leg left arm. Remember to keep the oblique muscles tight before you start moving.
6. Hold this position for a few seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
The McGill Side Bridge
The starting position for this third exercise should have your shoulder, hips, knees, and ankles in a straight line. Have one hand on the side that is elevated to allow yourself to get started and you can have that feedback that you’re contracting the oblique muscles that you need.
1. Start in a side plank position. Lift yourself up and hold for 10 seconds. If you have shoulder pain in the bottom arm, try to push your shoulder down using your pectoral muscles and your latissimus dorsi muscle (flat muscle covering the width of the middle and lower back). You may have to try it several times to find the right groove. Even people with bad rotator cuff injuries can still find a way to hold themselves down and use their latissimus dorsi muscle during this position.
2. Take your arm up and you’re going to move it across so they are formed to support your upper body weight as you face down the ground rotating as a unit all the way downwards for a front plank.
3. In this position, as everything’s staying nice and tight from the lower lumbar area, count to 10 seconds again.
4. From here is a little tricky. You need to have your feet a little bit apart so that you can move. Rotate by lifting your arm up first to move as a unit and place your arm on the area where you can feel your oblique muscles. This way, you are creating stiffness as the body rotates well.
5. Do this again for 10 more seconds. Repeat the exercise on the other side. Remember to be careful not to arch your back or bend your knees as this can cause injury.
A few words of caution
Now, this is not an easy set of exercises. What’s gonna happen when you first start, you’re probably not going to be very successful with all of them at first. This is especially true if you have back pain. The key to this is you cannot have pain during this. That’s how we know you’re in the right position. Eventually, you will get more efficient at being strong in that position.
When you have a slipped disc, it is important to create muscle stiffness around your spine. This will help the muscles hold things in place instead of the ligaments and discs. The ligaments and discs may be damaged, depending on what kind of injury you have.
A slipped disc, or herniated disk, is a common injury that can cause pain and discomfort in the back. While it’s tempting to rest and avoid activity until the pain subsides, this may do more harm than good. There are several exercises you can do at home to help relieve pressure on the disc and improve your symptoms. The McGill Three: the McGill Curl Up, The Bird Dog, and The McGill Side Bridge are all easy-to-follow exercises that can be done in just a few minutes per day.
We hope these exercise tips help, but if you experience any pain or discomfort while trying them, please stop and consult with your doctor before continuing. If you’re ready to take the next step towards better health, schedule a discovery call with our team today. We would be happy to discuss our personalized wellness programs and how we can help you achieve your goals.
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DISCLAIMER: The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional