Six exercises to avoid with an annular tear

If you’ve been diagnosed with an annular tear, exercise is both an important recovery tool as well as a possible risk factor for aggravating your injury. Therefore, it’s important to understand the types of exercises that you should avoid when diagnosed with this common degenerative spine condition, as well as the types of exercise that may help you find the relief you are searching for.

What is an annular tear?

Also referred to as a ruptured disc, an annular tear is any rip or tear in the tough outer shell (annulus fibrosus) of a spinal disc. The discs serve as shock absorbers for the spine, helping to cushion the vertebrae as they endure daily wear and tear due to the body’s movements. When a tear occurs, the material inside the disc can escape into the spinal canal and put pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord, often resulting in painful symptoms.

Exercises to avoid when diagnosed with an annular tear

Exercising and stretching will usually be integral parts of the treatment plan your physician prescribes when you are suffering from an annular tear. However, there are several types of physical activity that can do more harm than good. Exercises to avoid include:

  1. Running. The jarring impact that the spine endures during a run can often be one of the factors that leads to the development of an annular tear, so jogging and running should be avoided.
  2. Twisting exercises. Tennis and golf are two of the activities that require significant twisting of the spine, which can aggravate an annular tear.
  3. Sit-ups and straight leg lifts. While core exercises can help strengthen the muscles around the spine, you should avoid exercises that put too much strain on the back, such as sit-ups and straight leg lifts.
  4. Barbell squats. Because this exercise involves holding weight above your shoulders and putting strain on the back, it’s best to avoid barbell squats when you are suffering from a spinal disc injury.
  5. Clean and press. Again, this exercise involves holding a large amount of weight above your head, which can worsen an annular tear.
  6. Deadlifts. Deadlifts also require the use of your back in lifting a heavy weight, so they should be avoided.

Exercises that may be helpful

If you are suffering from an annular tear, your physician will likely suggest exercises designed to help take the stress off your spine. An exercise ball is a popular tool that can be used for many different exercises to help reduce your symptoms. Walking, biking, swimming and yoga are other low-impact options to consider.

Many patients suffering from an annular tear will find relief from their symptoms through exercise and other conservative treatments. However, in cases where painful symptoms persist, surgery may be an option. At Laser Spine Institute, our skilled surgeons perform thousands of minimally invasive spine surgeries each year.^ If you would like to find out if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive outpatient procedures, contact us today.