Herniated Disk Exercises for L5-S1

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of lumbo-sacral spine

A herniated disc, also referred to as a herniated disk, occurs when the inside of the disc pushes through the tough outside of the disc and causes back, leg, neck or arm pain. A herniated disc can also cause sharp pain in the outside region of your foot and reduce reflexes in your heel. The most common locations of a herniated disc are the L4-L5 and L5-S1 levels. One way to reduce pain is to strengthen your core and stretch your back. Always talk with your health care provider before starting any exercise program or if you suspect you have a herniated disc.

Low Impact Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercise will help you recover quicker because it will strengthen your muscles without putting unnecessary pressure on your herniated disc. Try walking, biking or swimming to help strengthen your core muscles.


Stretching your muscles will reduce the stress they place on your back and consequently reduce your pain. Combine a stretching routine with strength training for optimum results.

Position yourself on your back, knees bent, legs together. Place your arms at your sides and roll your legs over to one side, holding for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Lay on your back and clutch one of your knees close to your chest, and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.

Position yourself on your hands and knees about shoulder width apart. Raise your left arm and right leg while keeping your abdominal muscles tight. Repeat with your other two limbs and complete eight to 20 repetitions.

Strengthen your Core

Strengthening your core will enable your muscles to better support your spine and relieve pain from your back. Perform these exercises at least three times each week.

Position yourself with your back flat on the floor, knees bent. Lift your shoulders off the ground about 3 to 6 inches before returning to the start position. Perform eight to 10 repetitions.

Stay on your back with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Contract the muscles of your buttocks and abdomen and slowly tilt them up, holding for one to five seconds. Try moving your legs further out and holding for a longer time as your muscles strengthen.

Yoga, Tai Chi and Chi Kung

These meditative, stretching and strengthening exercises developed in Asia can help reduce back pain and keep it from returning. Your back will be simultaneously stretched and strengthened.