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4 Therapeutic Stretches to Relieve Lumbar Herniated Disc

4 Therapeutic Stretches to Relieve Lumbar Herniated Disc

It has been estimated that up to 80% of the population will suffer with back pain at some point during their lifetime, and lumbar disc herniation is often the underlying cause of discomfort. Exercise, including therapeutic stretching, is a vital component of herniated disc treatment. Your symptoms will be relieved and the overall health of your spine will be improved by taking a proactive approach to your recovery.

What is a Lumbar Disc Herniation?

Herniated discs most often occur in the lower back (lumbar spine) in early to middle-aged adults. While some disc herniations occur due to the natural aging process due to degenerative changes and decreased water content of the intervertebral discs, they’re often caused when too much pressure is placed on the spine. Disc herniation in the lower back often occurs with lifting, bending, twisting, and or pulling, but can also occur due to poor posture.

Let’s take a look at the basic anatomy of the spine. Your spine is comprised of bony vertebrae that are separated by jelly-like intervertebral discs. These intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers that cushion the joints of the spine during impact, allow for smooth movements of the spine, and keep the vertebrae in place.

A herniated disc happens when the intervertebral disc ruptures, which causes the disc to leak and extend beyond the intervertebral disc space. This can irritate the surrounding nerves and lead to the classic symptoms of disc herniation.

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

When a portion of the intervertebral disc has extended further than normal, it may come into contact with a spinal nerve root or spinal cord, resulting in symptoms including:

  • Localized lower back pain
  • Radiating pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the buttocks, legs, and feet
  • Muscle weakness in the legs
  • Muscle spasm in the lower back
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control (rare)

Stretches to Relieve Lumbar Disc Herniation Symptoms

Luckily, there are a number of stretches that you can do to improve the mobility of your spine and relieve pressure on the herniated disc. We’ll outline 4 therapeutic stretches to include in your daily routine if you have a lumbar disc herniation. If you experience an increase in pain during any of these stretches, discontinue the particular exercise and consult your physical therapist to discuss other potential treatment options.

  • Standing Lumbar Extension
  • Begin standing with a neutral posture
  • Place your hands around your hips with your thumbs positioned on the sacroiliac joints in your back (the bony points on each side of your spine)
  • Keep your knees straight and slowly lean backward
  • Slowly return to the starting position
  • Aim for 10 repetitions of this exercise
  • Prone Lumbar Extension (Half Cobra Pose)
  • Begin lying on the floor on your stomach
  • Prop yourself up onto your elbows and keep your hips in contact with the floor
  • Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds
  • Slowly return to the starting position
  • Aim for 10 repetitions of this stretch
  • Cat and Camel
  • Begin on the floor on your hands and knees
  • Inhale and drop your stomach toward the floor and look up to the ceiling
  • Exhale and slowly round your spine as you pressure your hands into the floor and curve your neck inward to look at your feet
  • Aim for 10 repetitions of this stretch
  • Seated Hamstring Stretch
  • Begin by sitting on a chair with another chair placed in front of you
  • Rest your left foot on the ground and raise your right foot onto the chair in front of you
  • Straighten your back and lean forward over your right leg until you feel a slight stretch in the back of your right thigh
  • Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds
  • Switch legs and repeat
  • Aim for 3 repetitions of this stretch on each side


If you’re suffering with a lumbar disc herniation that is impacting your life, the stretches discussed in this article should provide you with symptom relief. However, if your symptoms persist, consider a consultation with one of the physical therapists at Blue Hills Sports & Spine Rehabilitation. They can assess your condition, ensure that you’re performing the stretches appropriately, and suggest other potential treatment options that may provide you with relief of your symptoms.