Yoga for a Herniated Disc
Yoga is known for its many mental and physical health benefits. Besides helping you find peace and making you more physically fit, it can help with injuries like disc herniations. A disc herniation is an injury to the spine that may or may not cause pain. If you do suffer pain from a disc herniation, practicing yoga can help fix it.
Between each vertebrae of your spine is a gel-like divider called a disc. These discs provide cushioning between the vertebrae and prevent them from rubbing on each other. There is a soft center of the disc surrounded by a more firm ring. In a disc herniation, there is a lot of pressure on the disc, which causes the softer center to rupture and push out of the disc.
Depending on what way your spine was bending, the herniation will go in different directions. Typically, it pushes out in the opposite direction of the way the spine was bending. If you were bending forward, the herniation will come out of the back. If the herniation pushes against one of the nerves that come out of your spine, you will feel pain and possibly numbness in your back and legs.
Is Yoga Safe?
It is important to keep moving if you have a disc herniation. The stretching from a yoga class can help relieve pain by relieving the pressure on the disc. However, you don't want to do anything that makes your pain worse. Generally, you want to avoid moving in the same direction that you originally injured yourself in. It's also wise to consult a doctor before beginning to exercise after your injury.
Yoga is a safe forms of exercise that you can do if you have a disc herniation, as long as your doctor gives the OK. If you go to a Hatha yoga class, you'll move through bodyweight poses that allow you to gently stretch without moving too quickly. It's important to move slowly if you have a disc herniation because you don't want to move into a painful position.
With so many different forms of yoga, it can be hard to choose the right one to help with your disc herniation. According to a 2009 study in Spine, Iyengar yoga is beneficial for people with lower back pain.
Iyengar is a very precise form of yoga that uses a lot of props, such as yoga blocks and bands, to help practitioners get into the correct position. The poses in Iyengar yoga are held for longer than traditional Hatha yoga to allow the practitioner time to adjust to the position.
A 2005 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that Viniyoga, an individualized form of yoga, was better than traditional exercise and a self-care book for back pain patients in easing back pain. The individualized nature of Viniyoga makes it ideal for someone with a disc herniation because the yoga practice can be tailored to avoid painful movements and emphasize non-painful postures.
No matter what style of yoga you choose, it's important to find an instructor that understands the limitations that come with a disc herniation. It's important to move slowly during your practice and to avoid movements that hurt, so some of the poses may need modification.
- Complementary Therapies in Medicine: A comprehensive yoga programs improves pain, anxiety and depression in chronic low back pain patients more than exercise: An RCT
- The Clinical Journal of Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Yoga for Low Back Pain
- Yoga Journal: Yoga With a Herniated Disc
- Yoganatomy: Practicing yoga with a herniated disc?
- Viniyoga: What is Viniyoga?