Herniated Disk Exercises are a very important, and often neglected, step of recovering from a spinal disc injury.  By strengthening the surrounding muscles and keeping your body in shape, you will be minimizing pain, improving posture, and increasing your overall quality of life.  Below are a bunch of different types of herniated disc back stretches and herniated disc exercises.  Before attempting any of these exercises, you should consult your doctor. If you feel pain from an exercise, stop performing it immediately.

If you plan on using herniated disk exercises and stretches for your recovery, you should work with a physical therapist. The physical therapist will be able to show you the exact exercises that you should perform and how to do them safely. Physical Therapy will also treat your back using their muscle relaxing equipment. These herniated disc exercises will alleviate the pressure on the back without causing any harm to the injury.

Ask the physical therapist about hernaited disk exercises that you can perform at home. This separate set of exercises should supplement your physical therapy exercises. The therapist should be able to give you exercises, and give you the appropriate amount of reps and sets for each movement.

Herniated disk exercises aim to remove the pressure on your nerves by strengthening your back. Eventually, this will help with your back pain and other pain caused by the herniated disk.

It is important to consult a doctor before you think about starting an exercise program. They will be able to refer you to physical therapists and professionals who will work with you to correct your back issues. By being stationary all of the time and not getting your body moving, you can actually be causing yourself to be in even more pain. It is important to ensure that you are doing some sort of exercise as it will help to strengthen your back and promote disc and joint mobility.

Herniated Disc Stretches

Single Knee To Chest

Lie on your back on a flat and firm surface. Grip your hands behind your thigh and pull it towards your chest. Keep the opposite leg flat on the surface. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.

Double Knee To Chest

Just like in the Single Knee To Chest, lie on your back on a flat and firm surface. Grip your hands behind both of your thighs and pull them toward your chest. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then rest and repeat.

Prayer Stretch

Kneel on flat firm surface and rest your buttocks on your heels.  Lower yourself slowly and raise your arms out in front.  Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and then come back to neutral position.  Repeat this process favoring your left side next and then your right side.  Keep rotating center, left and right.


Herniated Disc Exercises

Pelvic Lift

Lie on your back on a flat and firm surface. Your feet should be flat, knees bent, and your legs should be together. Tilt your pelvis and push your lower back to the floor and slowly lift your buttocks off the floor as far as possible without straining. Hold this position for 5 seconds and then lower your buttocks to the floor. It is very important to keeping breathing during the movement, do not hold your breath.

Trunk Rotation

Lie on your back on a flat and firm surface. With your knees bent and your feet flat, rotate your trunk from side to side. Make sure you go slow and concentrate on form. Do not swing or jerk.

34 thoughts on “Stretches

  1. chris

    hope you are doing better. I have always been extremely active as this is how i damage my back – sit ups twisting with a medicine ball until i was out of breath – i was diagnosed with inverted herniation with inner and outer tear plus herniatiion 2-3 . first you need to rest. do not twist or lift anything for a few weeks, do warm salt soaks daily, hang on an inverted table. This has helped tremendously. now i am entertaining acupunture.

  2. RQ

    My pain journey started in 2010 with severe back pain radiate down left leg to feet. I went to the ER n was told I have sciatica, a pinching nerve that is severely painful when it constant shoot down to ur feet. I was under medication and it comes n goes at times. Finally in 2013 I was at work n I felt that severely pain that I never felt before. I was on the floor for 3 days in pain, my family rush me to the hospital did a CT and MRI diagnosis me with a L5 S1 herniated disc. I went straight to surgery and my Neuro doctor did a microdisectomy and when I open my eyes the pain went away instantly. I am so blessed and thank my family and the hospital staff, nurses, doctor, and especially thank god Jesus Christ, holy mary, n saints to heal me from my years of unknown back pain…………..

  3. Russ

    I am 52 years old and have always been active. I started to have lower back pain and right leg pain and a foot drop, meaning I couldnt walk on my right heel and couldnt bear any weight on it. Basically it was almost completely going limp. I had an MRI done and diagnosed with hernited disc L4-L5 and a cyst the size of a hazelnut on the right hand side of the disc. Doctor recommended surgery right away. I saw a sports doctor and he said get an epidoral injection since the cyst was on the right side and all my problems was on that side also. The neurosurgeon said he will decompress and empty the cyst while giving me the injection. He saidthe pain might come back and I would be uncomfortable for a few days. Guess what the pain was gone the next day and I got all me strentgh back and the foot drop was gone. The doctor who recommended the surgery told me he had never seen anything like it. The cyst might come back and worst case scenario I could have it removed surgically. Has any one seen anything like this?

  4. b

    I’ve dealt with a bad back all of my life. We need to stay on top of it and do certain exercises. Not just walk/run or lift weights. Keeping our back muscles around the spine strong will help not put as much stress on the spine. A good diet goes a long way too. You can keep praying for healing, I’m going to heal myself.

  5. Ann

    My diet before herniation 1200 carb count. Ate 120 g of protein to keep my muscles. Ate whole wheat brown rice. Lots of Milk. Lean protein mostly chicken and fish. No high in saturated fats but lots of good fats like almond, avocados peanut buttr, etc. Lots of vegies like sweet potatoes broccoli and whatever greens. and 5-6 meals a day. Took multivitamins for women, fish oil, protein shakes, green tea, grape seed. I don’t drink maybe a glass of wine on occasion and I don’t smoke. Very healthy individual but still got a herniated disk. Anyways eating healthy and being active is part of my lifestyle. Now though I cannot lift, bend or twist jncase I herniate my back again. Suffering back pain is not worth it for just picking up a box or sometgibg.

  6. Ann

    Hi 25 years of age female Asian, active in sports such as soccer and volleyball, 120 lbs, work in an office, go to the gym 2 times a week before back episode.

    First back episode grade 9 took robaxocet was fine after. Second episode locked back while brushing teeth over sink in first year university. Got a massage took Advil and was fine . Third episode – 4 th year university I was walking hunchbacked after an exam couldn’t finish my exam without discomfort. Wore a back brace and got a massage. Fourth episode- at 24 years old had a herniated disk L4. Picked up nephew by bending and twisting. Recoveverd after seeing a physiotherapist and getting traction for 2 months. Fifth episode 8 months later at 25 years of age. Reherniated my disk by lifting boxes at work but felt no pain until 2 days after. Pain radiates hip down to my toes. Was numb and could not walk. Felt paralyzed for a day bc I had no control over my legs. Paramedics picked me up at home. Back spasms continued for days. Medication oxy, diazapam and neproxin. Oxy didn’t work made me was constantly constipated and sitting on the toilet for minutes on end didn’t help my lower back at all. Started smoking marijuana for chronic pain. It helped my muscle spasms and I swear took away discomfort. Plus I was not constipated like from what OxyContin would do. Still seeing a physio 2 times a week for 2 months. After 3 months going physio once a month for traction, massage , heat and exercise. Had an MRI and X-ray. I recommend gradual return to work half days and increase an hour every week. Right now I’m on 6 hours out of the 8 full hours of work.
    I know your pain guys. It can happEn to anyone. Look at me I’m super active and fit and and bam another herniation. It is debilitating and depressing. Ppl judge me because I work in an office but sitting infront of a computer screen is no good either. See your doctor and phsyio for the physical part of getting better. I suffers abit from depression. My fiancé took care of me the whole time while he had his fellowship exam for his designation to write. Imagine that me being in total pain and discomfort while he had his Actuarial fellowship exam to write last one too. No matter how much pain you are in, you have to find the inner strength and will to getter better. Ultimately it is your body and your future so you gotta fight and stay positive. Know that there are medical practionera that can help you. But the mental stress is something you need to overcome cus no one will understand how much you’re going through even with support, it is your inner strength that will get you on the right path to recovery. Email me if you need some help.

  7. parth

    I m 20 yrs old and i had to leave my collage due to severe pain in my right leg,hip and lower back region.i had disc degenration at L4-L5 and s1 region.i saw many doctors some advised sergery at times the pain was so agonising and i was under so much stress as it had ruined my collage that i at once decided to go for sergery but then i was advised my another patient to go for oil message .they gave me oil message an ointment and a bag with hot sand for gentle heating ,i m also doing it at home and i must say in just a week i have got significant relief now i can get out of bed and go to the bathroom on my own.although it will still require a month or two for me to recover completely.i just wanna say that there r some conservative methods of treatment that even the docs dont know about and we should also look into these methods.i know what it feels like so best of luck to all. may u all get well soon

  8. tracy crane

    you are so very right. had a herniated disc back in 2009, yes I couldnt stand up either was wierd.. thank godd was put on steriods for 3 weeks and had three months of rehab..

  9. Linda

    Kelly—-have had ongoing pain in my hip for 20 years and recently had a horrific bout of siatica with unbearable pain. Chiroptractor helped and sugggested the use of fish oil to reduce inflammation. So for 2 weeks I was on 6 to 8 capsules of fish oil along with max of 12 advil a day and ice packs. I did take the time to search the internet for info and Mayo clinic has a good site. I also remembered that I had a “tens” unit from my chiro for chronic back pain last year so I gave it a try. It took a while to find the correct placement for the electric stimulus pads but once I did it helped the pain tremendously. I got an appointment for my medical doctor and she had me checked out by a sports med doc and he diagnosed a bulging disc but since my pain has improved no treatment except advil or aleve 3 times day and to come back if pain gets worse. I still have a numb foot and only time will tell if I will get the feeling back. I am checking on some safe exercises and stretching to strengthening my core. Good luck to you — I have felt your pain

  10. Lenora

    I am 53 years old. About 1 month before my 53 birthday began experiencing pain for a week unable to walk. Next week able to walk but bent over. It feels like a band in my low back tightens so i cant straigten up. When i sit for long periods at church its difficult to get up and walk straight again. I am a poor candidate for surgery because i have adrenal disease and low blood pressure lowers even more when under anesthesia. Gonna try the above exercises, lift weights and water therapy and pray very much for God to heal me. Any suggestions are accepted.

  11. court

    if you have a bad herniation, I had surgery and it helped. Not recommended for everyone is the herniation is not bad.

  12. court

    Kelly I know how you feel. Look into physical therapy, ultrasound, and ice and stretch a lot. STRETCH AND ICE. lie down with you feet in the air at a right angle if you need immediate pain relief. Also look into pain killers. and steriods/anti inflammatories.

  13. Whitney

    I have been there myself. I had a herniated disc at 21 and spend 6 months doing physiotherapy, accupuncture, chiropractor, pain killers, etc..I ended up having the surgery which worked but within the year had reinjured my back. I had serious pain for the following three years and wasn’t able to enjoy daily life…I became addicted to painkillers and had a really rough time. It wasn’t until I tried trigger point therapy massage that my life started to get better. I swear that it worked amazing and now I only get massages every month…when I started it was every week. I also do yoga which really helps. I pray that your pain begins to diminish and that it starts getting better. Chronic pain is the worst thing ever 🙁 I would definitely try trigger point massage and see if it helps you as it has me!

  14. Kelley

    I know how you all feel. as i sit here reading all of your messages i wipe at my tears. i was diagnosed with an inverted bulging disc, a herniated disc and arthritis. i spend most days in horrible pain watching my life fly by me. I am failing my classes and my father who had a stroke recently is taking care of me along with my boyfriend. i have felt so alone they are helping me but they dont know how much pain im in and how useless i feel everyday. i wish you all the best.

  15. Kris

    I am 37 I have had back problem for over 4 years now the last major relapse has left me in constant pain down my right leg, both feet and buttocks are in pain I have had an MRI scan and a steroid injection into my spine but just as I think it feels a bit better bang it goes again I don’t now what to do like many other I feel like I am at my wits end never-ending pain how are you supposed to cope with it. What is the next step. Any surgery has to be bad right ?

  16. Dyanne

    Hi all. Am 31 with 2 small children, trying to cope with disc degeneration and severe herniation at L4 and L5. @Jennifer, I know how you feel…I am too young for this, my doctors just say it’s bad luck as I’m not overweight or unfit, and I never even did anything to injure my back. So far I’ve managed to avoid surgery using a combination of being very careful to protect my back whatever I’m doing, and keeping active. Although the pain is sometimes unbearable, I try to keep stretching gently and keep my core strong. Swimming has been my greatest help, as it takes all the pressure off my back and lets me feel like like I can move normally.

  17. Azeezuddin

    I have been suffering from herniation L5-S1 since 2 years.could you please give the address of the hospital you got operated.

  18. noel

    i also expereince what you feel but in my case it’s my left leg only and got already operated on aug.26 n am now feeling better at 1st i’m scared too of back surgery but i have to since it’s d only solution so i’ve looked for hospital w/c s specialist in spine to lessen my worries n am very lucky that i’ve operated here in korea coz their using modern tech. But 1st of all u must have faith and pray that He is always in control. And one thing after operation u can’t pee for about 8-10 hrs so make sure pee 1st before operation. May God bless all n gud luck to all u guyz who undergo surgery.

  19. Cola

    For Faith – I have an L4/L5 herniated disc – tried the chiropractor and that helped while I went, but stopped helping when I stopped going….physical therapy helped, but I couldn’t do the things I normally wanted to do. Here’s what did help: 1) doing no lifting/running, etc. for a few months – only stretching, walking, and easy excercises to keep up core strength, and lifting where it didn’t use the lower back 2) adding in Yoga to stretch and strengthen and Pilates (but always modifying) 3) adding in a body-weight weight-training program once yoga was bearable (think 5 lb weights or less, only every-day life motions like squats, etc – P90X is an example, and what I used …modify when you even think it might hurt! The abs/core routine in P90X is really lower-back friendly and builds a lot of strength). 4) added in running using Jeff Galloway’s run/walk method – started with 5 minutes of run/walking and am now at 40 minutes w/o pain. Slowly building up works – and realizing that it’ll never be as good as it was, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be amazing! It just means that progress is just a lot harder and bigger challenge for you than it is for others! It took 2.5 years for me to train to this point – I hurt my back 4 years ago – took the first 1.5 years for my hard-head to realize it wouldn’t get better until I stopped doing things that hurt it! Best of luck!

  20. Sinclair

    @ liz; I had a very similar situation last semester that ended with me withdrawing two weeks before classes ended. In my case, walking was difficult and sitting was agonizing. After consulting an orthopedic surgeon, my options were try to hasten the healing with injections space about a month apart or go in for surgery. Surgery should always be a last resort to this sort of thing as any surgery around the spine can be quite risky (no matter how good the surgeon is). It took about four months to heal, but I did it without surgery. It is very important to follow through afterward with physical therapy to avoid relapse. The decompression that the chiropractor is doing with you isn’t a reliable treatment (though I had tried that as well, it is very logical to think it would work). I would try to find an orthopedic clinic near you for consultation, they have the training to best assess your condition.
    Probably the hardest part of all this, you may want to drop your classes this semester now, unless you are 100% that the pain won’t significantly affect your studies. Recovery from a herniated disc often takes three months and can easily take a year. You can always pick up where you left off next semester and should be reimbursed if you drop classes now. It you wait too long, you won’t be reimbursed (check your university bylaws to ensure reimbursement for the add/drop period, it likely varies by university).

  21. liz

    Have been having pain in right leg and my whole left leg is numb, only on the backside. I’m havin trouble with walking and would rather sit all day cause the more I move around, the more pain I’m in. I had an MRI and the results show a bid herniated disc at L4-L5. I have been doing decompression with a chiropractor for about two months now and nothing is improving except i don’t limp anymore. I saw a neurosurgeon and he recommended surgery. I am really scared and not sure if I should go through with it or not. I also can’t take narcotics because I have an addictive personality. On top of it all, I have been taking Ibuprofin and Tylenol 3x/day and now my liver function is high. PLUS, I am starting up Fall Semester of College at the end of the month! Can anyone give me advice and experience. Well appreciated in State of Maine; USA

  22. Angela

    I was diagnosed with a herniated disc at 15 yrs old, and often was unable to do much but lie in bed in pain. I went to a doctor who got me in to see a physical therapist and these are some of the exact exercises I did with her. I still have back pain now and again, but it never leaves me immobile anymore. For more serious cases, I’m sure there will be more demanding or inconvenient solutions but for mine, these always help.

  23. jennifer

    Im 28 i have had 3 kids and recently diagnosed with lower lumbar spinal stenosis, disc degeneration disease and arthritis, i have bulging disc in my L3 , and bulging disc with it rupturing through my spine in my L4-L5 and bulging disc in my L5-S1. im in sooo much pain and can find no relief or any one my age with this. All the doctors say im too young and are in disbelief. Should i have surgery. What are my chances?

  24. Tunga

    I am male aged 74 and diabetic for last 32 years. I had problem with my leg and foot to start with. Tingling at the heels, later spread to both the feet, burning urine before start the flow. Consulted urologist consumed cytralalka, Uripass, Pyridium but did not help much. Finally landed with pain in rectum and sciatic pain all around that area.
    I consulted a orthopaedic surgeon after an xray he suggested me to for MRI. This revealed the problem with my nerve compression at l5, l4, and l3.
    I recently got the operation in India.
    After the operation or was helped to sit and stand on the second day and third day made me to walk around the room. Now I am discharged from the hospital. It is almost 15 days now after operation. My agony for the last 8 years is over. Now I am able to walk without any help and I am sure to attend all my work both at home and office in another 2 months.
    What a difference this operation made in my life.

  25. Kimberley

    In reply to Bob:

    I have also recetly been diagnosed with an L5/S1 disc hernia, and have been out of hospital for a week, having had a Caudal epidural. I have yto wait until mid August for my first physio session. In the meantime I am using crutches to get around and for pain relief am wearing morhine patches and taking Tramadol, Diclofenic and Codeine. I do not believe that that the epidural has helped at all, and as I am desperate to get back to work, and feeling incresingly frustrated.

  26. Faith

    Hi everyone! My name is Faith, from South Africa. I unknowingly suffered a herniated disk over 3 & a half months ago following a rigorous exercise session (it happened while using an Ab machine/ device I bought)… The pain has been on & off; but now I have learned to take better care of myself following a number of consultations with chiropractors. I would like to get back int exercising but am finding it difficult to find information on how to build up an exercise regime including which exercised to avoid etc. Any advice please? PS. All the best to everybody, I have felt so alone sine this happened & know how it feels to be immobile & feeling helpless!

  27. admin Post author

    Losing weight should definitely help you out. I lost about 30lbs after gaining all that extra weight from not exercising. I definitely feel a little better now. I still continue to do physical therapy, light exercise, and the use of pain medication as needed.

  28. Bob

    I have been diagnosed with herniated disc in the L5 S1 last week and my doctor now put me into a physical therapy routine. I know the hell that everyone has been going through, I am also going through that for a month now. I am now walking a bit and my doctor said that I will be good as new with regular physical exercise. Also I have to lose weight so that my spine can bear it. I hope the best to all of us and may we all live a better life.

  29. Fran

    Although I am not as young as some of you (59), I have always been very healthy and strong. About a year and a half ago I began to have severe pain down the left tush, groin, and behind the left knee. The pain was definitely a 10+! On Feb. 19, I had laproscopic surgery for two bulging discs and a rizotomy procedure for the nerve. The pain continued at the same level. On April 20, I had pretty radical surgery to place appliances on either side of the vertebrae to stabilize the L2-L3, L3-L4, L4-L5 discs. The appliances are tubular and pliable and I was told that upon complete recovery, I would be able to play tennis, touch my toes and do pretty much anything else normally. The pain continued. Now an MRI and CAT scan show that following the surgery, the only lower disc, L5-S1 has collapsed and is still compressing the nerve. It will involve another surgery! Can’t begin to tell you how frustrating and painful all of this has been! I have been praying for our son to return from Afghanistan healthy and whole and those prayers have been answered. Also for my mom who has breast cancer. Now I’m praying for myself because if I’m not healthy, I can’t help anyone else!

  30. sherr

    I wish you all the luck in every way, may your mobility be good as new after you heal from surgery. I am going on two years myself with my back, I understand the hell you have been through. It is great to see your positive atitude, you are a strong person and I wish you to get on with a beautiful life without any pain fron your back!!!


  31. Anon

    Hmm I’m 17 years old and having this pain for a year by now. It’s really an obstacle to my goals really. I even had to leave school because the pain is too strong for me to handle. But yeah good luck to everyone who has to suffer from this because it really is a persistance.

  32. khamereenebi rasheed

    I am 30 years old and recently went through hell my self.I was dignosis with a servere herniated disk on L5 S1,also had siatica from it.I had two cortesone shots,which did help,but not enough.I had microdisectomy surgery on fryday,left the hospital on saturday and went beyond hell on sunday,and monday felt great,still early though.My advice put God first,Pray,have faith,confidence,determination and patience.I recommend the microdisectomy surgery.God wants you to see some thing,or for you to humble your self.Figure it out,but stay strong.

  33. Colleen

    Next week, on April 6th, I will be having back surgery, a laminectomy to be exact. I can not wait!! I’ve been dealing with lower back pain for almost 2 years. The worst of it has been going on the last 6 months. I’m not gonna lie, it has taken over my life. I’ve literally been thru hell and back these last few weeks. I’m 28 years old and have been told I have the mobility of a 60 year old woman, I gotta say it’s a little depressing to hear that. But I’m keeping a positive attitude about the hole thing and can’t wait to get this done and over with, so I can recover, and get on with my life!! Wish me Luck!

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