What Should You Not Do With a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc is a condition in the back that happens when the disc between the bones of the spine ruptures. You’ll feel pain whenever a nerve is compressed as you move. Sometimes herniated discs require surgery, but in other cases, medication or therapy may help with pain management.

The doctor will likely tell you certain things you should be doing if you’ve been diagnosed with a herniated disc. It's important to avoid these activities or adapt them to meet your limitations.

Avoid Certain Exercises

While exercise can help strengthen the muscles in your back and legs and improve the range of motion with a herniated disc, certain exercises can make the situation worse and cause more pain. In general, you should avoid sit-ups and crunches, straight leg raises, and squats. Before starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor about which exercises are safe.

Avoid Sitting Too Long

It can be tempting to sit when your back is hurting, but it’s not the healthiest activity for you. Avoid sitting for too long without getting up and moving around. Also avoid sitting with poor posture, which places stress on your back muscles. If you sit at a desk all day as part of your job, try to get up and walk around at least once every hour.

Avoid Lifting Too Much

Limit how much you lift with a herniated disc. Just the act of bending forward puts a strain on your spine, so bend your knees whenever you pick up something from the floor. You may need to do some exercises to strengthen your hamstrings, which will help you be able to lift from a bent position. Never pick up something from beside you. Instead, you’ll want to be standing right behind it when you lift. Don’t forget to ask your doctor about weight limits for lifting if you’ve been diagnosed with a herniated or bulging disc.

Adapt Certain Household Tasks

It’s a fact of life that you can’t avoid all work even if you have disc problems. As long as you have a home, you’ll have certain household chores to take care of. However, some of these tasks aren’t good for your back and can cause pain. You’ll need to adapt the way you perform the tasks or get help.

For example, doing laundry can be challenging if you have to reach down to pick up a basket of clothes. Instead, place it on a table when folding laundry. You may want to have your dryer set up on a base so that you don’t have to bend as low or sit in a chair as you place laundry in a front-loading washer from the basket or from the dryer to the basket. Vacuuming and mopping are two other tasks that can put a strain on your back.

Consider Your Hobbies and Interests for Pain Management

Other activities that you enjoy doing can also cause pain in your back with a herniated disc. For instance, caring for your pet may be more challenging. You have to bend to feed and water them or take them for a walk with a leash.

Another hobby that can become difficult is gardening. You’re digging in the ground, bent over or on your knees for long periods of time. Other tasks that can be challenging include carrying bags of fertilizer, pushing a wheelbarrow, and bending to water plants or pull weeds. A raised bed will help alleviate some of the issues, but you may need to find other options to reduce stress on your spine.

Talk to your doctor to find out which activities you should avoid and what restrictions are in place to prevent further issues. Getting help with pain management can allow you to enjoy more of your favorite activities even with a herniated disc.