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For most, a strong and healthy back is something often taken for granted until an event such as a herniated disc occurs. However, 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives.
A herniated disc (also called a slipped or bulging disc) is when the discs that provide cushion between the bones that form the spine (vertebrae), slip or rupture. As a person gets older, these discs will become less cushiony and wear out, losing their flexibility. A disc can be damaged by injury or simply the aging process itself. Knowing the proper exercises for herniated discs can be a powerful tool to rehabilitation and recovery.
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Everyone can benefit from exercise, but the exercises that we choose are key to regaining mobility and strength in our spine and back. Here are some important things to remember when exercising:
Start Small-choose movements that are easy and comfortable to do at first, then work your way up to the more challenging exercises as you get stronger
Doctor's Approval-make sure before you start any exercise routine you get your doctor's consent.
Pelvic Tilt: this is most commonly done standing, but beginners should start this exercise from a lying position first. A pelvic tilt is often used in forms of yoga or tai chi. Begin lying face up on your back, pull in the abdominal muscles and allow the pelvis to draw forward. Always maintain a slight bend in the knees to keep pressure off the lower back. This will create a flat back and use stabilizer muscles in the hips, legs, and abdominals to harmonize balance in the body.
Leg Extension: lie face up on your back with one knee bent and foot on floor. The other leg is straight and hands down at your sides. Push the small of your back down to the floor, creating a straight spine. Now slowly raise straight leg off the floor just a few inches, making sure lower back remains completely on the floor, then lower leg. Repeat and switch legs. This exercise will strengthen the abdominal muscles necessary to support the lower back.
Cobra: this stretch is designed to gain flexibility in the lower back and create greater extension of the area. Begin by lying face down on a flat comfortable surface and place hands flat on floor directly under the shoulders. Push your upper body up off the floor and turn the hands so fingers face out to your sides. You should feel this in the lower back.
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Recovery and Rehabilitation
Use these with discretion and as a way to rehabilitate from injury associated with herniated or sciatica-related back problems. These exercises for herniated discs will help strengthen the muscles in the core of the body, rehabilitating that herniated disc to get you up and back on your feet. Begin by using good judgement. If an exercise becomes painful, stop and consult with a trained professional on any fitness regime.
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