Exercising with a bulging disc: Three stretches to increase your flexibility and range of motion

As part of a comprehensive bulging disc treatment plan, stretching and exercising at home can provide significant pain relief and keep the muscles in the neck and back from becoming excessively tight. It’s common for a bulging disc to limit a person’s flexibility or range of motion, but regular stretching can help counteract this tendency.

Seated neck release

If your bulging disc is in the cervical (upper) part of your spine, this stretch can help release tension in your neck. First, find a comfortable seated position. Reach your right hand over to the left side of your head and gently guide your head to your right shoulder. It’s normal to feel a bit of tension here and you can use your hand to apply light pressure, but don’t press so hard that you experience major discomfort. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, then release. Repeat on the other side, using your left hand to guide your head to your left shoulder.

Behind-the-back stretch

Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Bring your hands behind your back and intertwine your fingers (if you can’t clasp your hands, use one hand to the hold the opposite wrist). Extend your hands away from your back while contracting your shoulder muscles. If you can, gently move your hands to the left side of your body and then to the right. If this is uncomfortable, keep your hands in the center of your body. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.

Knee-to-side twists

If your bulging disc is in your lumbar spine (lower back), knee-to-side twists can help with pain in your sacrum and hips. Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent (your back and feet will be on the floor and your knees will be pointed toward the ceiling). Extend both arms out to their respective sides, then drop both knees to your left side. Your knees may or may not touch the floor, but aim to bring them as close to the ground as is possible without creating significant discomfort (light resistance is normal). Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, then bring your knees back to the center and repeat on your right side.

While exercise and stretching help many people manage their bulging disc symptoms, some people find that nonsurgical treatments don’t do enough to keep their pain under control. In these instances, bulging disc surgery might be recommended. At Laser Spine Institute, we perform minimally invasive outpatient surgery for bulging disc treatment. Our approach can provide many advantages versus traditional bulging disc surgery, including shorter recovery times and lower complication rates.^ To find out if you’re a candidate, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

Browse Related Resources