As we discussed on Monday, a herniated disc can be a real pain in your….back. What did you think I was going to say?
And because a herniated disc can be extremely painful and put you off track of your daily activities, many people with this condition find themselves in a slump on the couch with their favorite “happy meal.”
Here is a news flash: being sedentary with a herniated disc is the fastest way to worsening your condition and bloating your belly. What you should be doing is working with your doctor or physical therapist on ways to strengthen your back and stabilize your core.
By strengthening you back, you are reducing risk of re-injury and disability. And because muscles surround your spine, when you strengthen them, you are ultimately releasing the pressure off of your herniated disc and allowing it to recover faster and stronger.
While you spend time strengthening your back, it is equally - if not more - important to stabilize your core. Every move you make, your core is activated. It aids us in breathing, bike riding and bathing. Get my point? Our core holds us steady and balanced, moving us the way our brain tells it to. It keeps our spine strong, stable and keeps our posture in line.
When you keep your core strong, you are also limiting your chances of injury, such as a herniated disc. But, if you already have a herniated disc, it is never too late to get your core in check to prevent re-injury and aide in your recovery.
To strengthen your trunk, keep in mind that quality is more important than quantity. This means that doing 1,000 crunches without breathing will hurt you more than help you. In order to breathe normally during exercise, try breathing through your diaphragm. To know if you are doing this correctly, try lying on your back with your hands over your stomach. When you breathe, your hands should lift. Try to continue this breathing method throughout your workout. Feeling short of breath or just plain tortured while trying to contract your core muscles has absolutely no benefits for either your core or your spine. Only do exercises that allow you breathe normally throughout the entire routine.
Also, try to keep your spine in its standard position. Your spine naturally has curves it is, so whenever you bend it in unnatural positions you are adding unnecessary stress to it during your workout.
And because no one enjoys being in any type of pain, it’s never a bad idea to use old faithful – heat and ice. Talk to your doctor about the heat/ice ratio you should be doing to give you the best results.
On top of pain management, core stability and breathing exercises, some recommended treatments also include a massage and acupuncture. These forms of treatment are not a good fit for everyone, so be sure to consult your doctor first.
Always bear in mind that everyone recovers at a different rate. The good news is that for most cases of a herniated disc, they tend to heal on their own over time. Many cases improve significantly within a month, while most heal within six weeks. No matter what you recovery rate is, always be easy on yourself, have patience and keep moving. Your body wasn’t built to sit around all day, so don’t. An active life – herniated disc or not - is a healthy life.