Exercises to avoid with a torn disc

A torn disc, also referred to as a ruptured, slipped or herniated disc, is a condition that characterizes the development of a tear in a spinal disc. This tear happens in the outer layer of the spinal disc that provides cushioning and support for the spinal vertebrae. In some instances of a torn disc, the gel-like center will leak out into the spinal canal and surrounding area of the spine and can result in pain and other discomfort caused by the fluid irritating a nearby nerve root or spinal cord.

Depending on where you have developed a torn disc, you may experience symptoms that include weakness and/or numbness in the affected area, tingling sensations, muscle spasms or cramping and pain in the neck or back. These symptoms can often interrupt a person’s daily activities and require adjustments to be made so that tasks such as regular chores and exercise aren’t a painful experience. If you are a regular exerciser, being diagnosed with a torn disc doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to live a sedentary life from here on out. In fact, light exercise and stretching can actually help your body to heal faster and keep your muscles from becoming stiff and weakened.

Before you begin or continue any exercise regimen, it is important to first get it approved by your doctor to ensure you don’t do further damage to your torn disc. Additionally, here are a few exercises that you should avoid as a general rule when recovering from a torn disc:

  • Barbell squats — require you to hold weight over your shoulders and put excess strain on your back and spine, which could aggravate the spinal disc that is injured
  • Running — requires the spine to endure jarring impact for an extended period of time and can actually be a contributing factor to developing a torn disc, so it’s best to avoid this type of exercise
  • Deadlifts — like barbells, deadlifts also put strain on your spine and back and should be avoided

Light forms of exercise are often included in a conservative torn disc treatment plan. Some good forms of exercising when dealing with a herniated disc include swimming, yoga and walking. Other forms of conservative treatment that may be recommended to you include over-the-counter pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, hot and cold therapy and steroid injections.

If weeks or months of using conservative torn disc treatments have provided little or no relief for your symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the minimally invasive surgery we offer to treat this and many other common spine conditions. Our minimally invasive procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures and patients are encouraged to walk again the day of surgery.^ When you contact us, we can also tell you about our free MRI review* that will help determine if you are a candidate for our outpatient procedures.