Three tips for returning to CrossFit after a herniated disc diagnosis

CrossFit® is a popular high-intensity training program that combines weight lifting and other strength-building exercises with aerobic conditioning to improve physical well-being. The workouts are typically organized as group activities and thus provide social opportunities as well as physical fitness benefits. The program has been effective in helping many people improve their overall fitness, but some experts say the competitive nature of the regimen and its emphasis on completing strength-training exercises quickly may lead to injuries, as participants sacrifice proper form for speedy completion of each activity.

If you’re a CrossFit enthusiast and you’ve been diagnosed as having a herniated disc in your neck or back, you’ll want to consult with your doctor about when and how you can resume your workout routine. A herniated disc is a spinal disc that has ruptured and allowed its soft inner contents to spill into the spinal canal. Typically, this condition causes pain and radiating symptoms to other parts of the body if the disc material rubs against a spinal nerve, which in turn becomes irritated and inflamed. A pinched nerve may also occur if the degenerating disc fails to provide adequate support for the vertebrae and thus allows other surrounding body tissue to come in contact with the nerve.

Although exercise can be beneficial for people who have herniated discs, experts generally recommend that patients who are experiencing pain avoid lifting weights and other strenuous exercise while they give their bodies a chance to heal. Stretching exercises, walking and swimming may be better choices to help keep your muscles strong and your spine flexible. Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend the best exercises for you to participate in while you’re experiencing the often debilitating symptoms of a herniated disc.

Three tips to keep in mind if you resume your CrossFit program

If your herniated disc symptoms improve and your doctor approves your participation in a CrossFit program, the following tips may help you avoid a future flare-up of symptoms:

  • Work with an experienced coach who will consider your spine condition and help you tailor your CrossFit routine to meet your needs.
  • If you experience pain during your workout, discontinue the exercise.
  • Build your leg and torso strength before attempting weight training activities such as snatches, deadlifts or lunges with shoulder weights.

Many people with herniated discs are able to resume their normal daily fitness programs after pursuing several weeks of conservative treatments, which may include ice and/or heat therapy and epidural steroid injections. However, if you’re still experiencing debilitating symptoms after trying nonsurgical treatments, you may wish to consider minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute as a treatment option. Our board-certified surgeons+ perform a number of outpatient procedures aimed at relieving the painful symptoms that often arise from a herniated disc.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about the advantages of our minimally invasive surgery techniques. We also offer a free MRI review* that can help determine whether you’re a candidate for our procedures.

Browse Related Resources