Exercises to help back pain caused by a slipped disc
If your back pain is crippling, with possible associated symptoms travelling down one or both legs, you may be suffering discogenic back pain, frequently termed, slipped disc. This pain rarely comes about from an isolated incident, and is more likely to be an accumulative effect from prolonged poor sitting postures, heavy lifting with poor technique, lengthy bouts of gardening or some other such repetitive strain activity.
People suffering discogenic low back pain may benefit greatly from the exercises used in the McKenzie method. These exercises are intended to remove any distortion of the intervertebral disc at the level of the affected joint. If you have just hurt your back however, you would be wise to read this first.
McKenzie exercises for low back pain
Lie face down with your head turned to one side. Lying face down restores your lumbar lordosis – the curve in your low back. This will decompress your spine, reducing the effect of gravity and giving it a chance to relax and repair. Initially, this position may feel uncomfortable, but as you concentrate on your breathing, your back pain should slowly subside. Most people will find themselves assuming this position naturally. You should lie like this for at least three minutes.
Lying in extension
Once you have completed three minutes of lying face down, raise your upper body supported above your elbows, with your pelvis still on the floor. Your position should resemble a cobra or sphinx. This puts a gentle passive extension force through your lumbar spine. Again, it might feel uncomfortable initially, but it should certainly not feel unbearably painful. Lying in this fashion serves to migrate the protruding intervertebral disc back between the vertebral bodies. Lie like this for another three minutes.
Return to the floor after performing three minutes of lying in extension. Place your hands beneath your chest about shoulder width apart. Using your triceps muscles, push into the floor raising your upper body once again, whilst keeping your pelvis on the floor. Come up all the way until both arms lock out. Your spine should be more extended than it was in the preceding exercise. Complete ten repetitions.
How often should I do them? If you are suffering a bad bout of back pain, it is recommended to perform these exercises every two hours during wake time (up to eight times in a day!).
In the case where you have radiating leg pain, you should note that doing these exercises has the effect of localising your pain to the low back. If your leg pain starts to get worse at any time during these exercises however, you should cease doing them.
These exercises benefit a range of presentations, but work especially well for those people who spend lengthy periods sitting at a desk. Prolonged sitting usually sees people slouching throughout the day, and ultimately losing the ability to extend through their lumbar spine. Most desk workers would be wise to include such exercises into their daily routine.
A word of caution – there are many causes of low back pain and associated leg pain. You should always consult a practitioner or McKenzie therapist for advice as to what the best means of therapy is for your condition.
*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.