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4 Therapeutic Stretches to Relieve Lumbar Disc Herniation

4 Therapeutic Stretches to Relieve Lumbar Disc Herniation

It is estimated that up to 80% of individuals will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lifetime, and some of these individuals will have pain as the result of a lumbar disc herniation. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a lumbar disc herniation, you may be looking for ways to relieve your symptoms. In this article we’ll discuss what lumbar disc herniation is, the symptoms of the condition, and outline 4 stretches that can help to relieve your symptoms.

Spinal Anatomy

Before we get into the details about disc herniation, let’s first discuss the basic anatomy of your spine. Your spine consists of 24 bones (vertebrae) that stack on top of each other to create the spinal canal, which provides protection for your spinal cord. Nerve roots exit your spinal cord through openings in the vertebrae.

In between each vertebra is an intervertebral disc that is round and flat, which acts as a shock absorber when you move. Each intervertebral disc is made up of the annulus fibrosus, which is the tough outer ring, and the nucleus pulposus, which is the jelly-like center of the disc.

What is A Lumbar Disc Herniation?

While a disc herniation can occur anywhere in the spine, they are most common in the lumbar region, which consists of five vertebrae.

When the inner jelly-like center of the disc starts to push against the outer ring of the disc, a disc herniation starts to develop. As stress continues to be placed on the disc, the jelly-like center may push all the way through the outer ring or cause the outer ring to bulge. This irritates the spinal cord and associated nerve roots, and may cause nerve inflammation. When spinal nerve roots are irritated and inflamed, disc herniation symptoms may start to occur.

Symptoms of Lumbar Disc Herniation

Symptoms of lumbar disc herniation vary among individuals, depending on where the disc has herniated, and which nerve root is being affected. However, the most common symptoms include:

  • Continuous or intermittent lower back pain
  • Increased lower back pain with sneezing, coughing, or bearing down
  • Muscle spasm in the lower back
  • Sciatic type pain (pain that starts in the back or buttocks that travels down into the leg and into the foot)
  • Muscle weakness of the lower extremities
  • Numbness of the lower extremities
  • Decreased reflexes in the lower extremities
  • Changes in bowel or bladder function

4 Stretches to Relieve Lumbar Disc Herniation Symptoms

Seated Hamstring Stretch

  • Begin seated on a chair with a chair positioned across from you.
  • Position your left leg on the floor and extend your right leg to the chair across from you.
  • Lean forward toward your right foot until you feel a stretch in the back of your right thigh.
  • Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Switch legs and repeat.
  • Aim for 3 repetitions of this stretch on each side.

Half Cobra Pose

  • Begin by lying on your stomach on the floor.
  • Slowly prop yourself up on your elbows, while your hips remain in contact with the floor.
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Aim for 5 repetitions of this stretch.

* Keep in mind that this position may be difficult initially, ensure that you start slowly and cautiously.

Alternating Leg Raises

  • Begin by lying face down with your hands positioned under your forehead.
  • Straighten your right leg and lift it a couple of inches off the ground.
  • Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds.
  • Slowly return your leg to the starting position.
  • Switch legs and repeat.
  • Aim for 3 sets of 15 repetitions of this exercise on each side.

Cat Camel Stretch

  • Begin on your hands and knees on the floor.
  • Inhale as your let your stomach drop toward the floor, while you look up toward the ceiling.
  • Then exhale and slowly round your spine toward the ceiling, while you press your hands into the floor, and flex your neck in toward your chest.
  • Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions of this exercise.

Conclusion

These therapeutic exercises should help to relieve some of your lumbar disc herniation symptoms. However, if your symptoms are lingering or progressing, consider an assessment with one of the physical therapists at Blue Hills Sports & Spine Rehabilitation. They can ensure that you’re performing the exercises correctly and get you on the right path toward optimal spine health.

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