Exercises to avoid with a prolapsed disc

A prolapsed disc is another name for a herniated disc — a condition that develops when a disc in your spine tears open, at which point it can potentially pinch a nerve and cause painful symptoms. While these symptoms can be debilitating, you should try to continue performing your daily activities as normal to avoid worsening your condition. Contrary to natural intuition, resting your spine and becoming inactive for too long when you have a prolapsed disc can actually worsen your condition by weakening your core muscles and placing more pressure on your spine.

One common way to help heal your prolapsed disc is by performing low-impact exercises. Avoid any high-impact exercises like running, jumping or anything else that places stress on your spine, unless you are otherwise instructed by your doctor. In fact, your doctor can recommend exactly which exercises to do and which to avoid when you have a prolapsed disc. Some of the most common exercises to avoid include:

  • Twisting exercises. Repeated twisting motions, especially if there is weight involved, will compress the prolapsed disc in your spine and cause the tear to worsen. Additionally, this movement will encourage more nerve compression by causing the disc’s nucleus to seep farther into the spinal canal.
  • Leg presses. This is especially true if your prolapsed disc is in your lower back. Leg presses compress your lower back, causing unnecessary pressure on your spine. If you have a damaged disc in this area, leg presses may aggravate your condition and increase your pain.
  • Some forms of weightlifting. While some weightlifting is encouraged to help strengthen the muscles near a prolapsed disc, there are certain motions you should avoid. For example, bending forward and jerking a bar quickly up is going to stress your back and worsen your condition, as can lying on your back and lifting the bar straight into the air. Ask your doctor (or personal trainer) for safe techniques and modifications specific to your condition.

If your symptoms continue despite your best efforts, stop and consult your doctor about other methods of treatment for a prolapsed disc that are available to you. While many people respond to conservative treatment, you may be recommended for surgical treatment if you do not find relief within several months. If this is your situation, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the advantages of our minimally invasive spine surgery and to receive a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.