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Last year as I was moving into my new home I pulled my back. And not just in one place, but in a few. I had strained a little muscle in my rear called the Piriformis muscle and had 2 slight disc herniations in my spine. Although none of them were a death sentence by any means, the collective pain from all three had me laid out on my back for two months solid.
Basically, I had three major pain points that were touching my nerves: 2 herniations touching my spinal nerve and my inflamed Piriformis muscle that was pressing on my sciatic nerve. I had pain from my lower back all the way down through my left glute and continued into my thigh, calf, and last 3 toes. OUCH!
FYI-Your Piriformis is a small triangular muscle located in your glutes. It helps rotate your hip, leg and foot outward. (You have no idea how much you rely on and use this muscle until you’ve pulled it!)
My home suffered, my son and dog suffered, and even family members suffered as they had to take turns coming into to town to take care of me until I could get myself fixed.
Unfortunately, that was half the battle. It wasn’t just one appointment and I was finished. I had to see multiple doctors, have an MRI, see a Physical Therapist, a spine specialist, and finally have a steroid injection.
Through all of this I had just finished nursing assistant classes and had to take my state exam with a throbbing back which made it darn near impossible to sit or stand. (Mind you, my entire exam was providing hands-on care; i.e bending, lifting, kneeling etc. I did pass though…)
Shortly after I passed my exam I accepted a brand new job at a hospital and would be starting in just a few short weeks. I had to start my job with the inability to stand for long periods (12 hour shifts on my feet… not good) and I had three of those shifts before I even went to see the doctor for the injection.
Thankfully and I’m not really sure how, I made it through the week and went for my injection. Five days later I was like a new person. I wasn’t back to full flexibility, nor were the issues gone, but I was able to stand, walk, and bend properly without searing pain in my back and leg. Nerve pain is the worst!
During this fun adventure I saw a PT and was given some instructions. I thought I was on the mend at one point, so I decided to complete my exercises at home- and add some in to strengthen my back and core. Big, BIG no-no. I do not recommend adding in exercises that you think will help. Always consult a doctor or therapist first! I ended up making my back worse which is why I had to eventually have the injection.
Exercises to Avoid With Disc Herniation
- Sit Ups and Regular Crunches
- Torso Twisting Stretches
- Rounded Back Hamstring Stretches
- Dead Lifts
Fortunately, there are corrective exercises and stretches you can do for disc herniation. They’re low impact and effective and can help your back heal safely.
Corrective Exercises To Help Disc Herniation
- Hip Flexor
2. Hamstring Stretch
3. Bilateral Knees to Chest
4. Single Knee to Chest
5. Pelvic Tilts
Yoga Poses for Disc Herniation
Along with these simple strengthening exercises, there are multiple yoga poses that can help with disc herniation. Research has found that yoga has a tremendous positive effect on the body. Studies have shown that yoga outperforms aerobic activity at improving balance, strength, flexibility, as well as pain and energy levels. Try out these poses starting with beginner level. As your body adjusts, you can (with the approval of a professional) move on to more advanced poses. (NOTE: Each of these pose has a sanskrit term associated with it, however they are not listed. If you would like to learn these yoga terms, you can find a list here.)
1. Cobra Pose
2. Locust Pose
3. Child’s Pose
4. Triangle Pose
5. Plow Pose
6. Wheel Pose
What do you need for these exercises?
Most of these corrective exercises can be done on a padded surface in your own home. And, you really do not need any additional equipment to complete them. However, as an bonus I do recommend investing in a few pieces that you can add to your home gym. These small additions can give you that extra stretch, massage, and weight needed to make a difference. Plus, you’ll save a some pocket change not needing to pay for a gym membership.