Exercises for a Bulging Disc in the Lower Back

Bulging discs in the lower back occur when the outer cartilage covering spinal vertebrae tears. Consequently, the gel-like center of the disc is forced against the weaker side of the vertebrae, causing the disc to bulge. This puts pressure on the nerves, which spurs swelling and pain. People can get a bulging disc from lifting heavy objects in an awkward manner, or from a car wreck. Stretching and strength-building exercises can alleviate pain and help support the bulging discs.

About Exercises

The stretching and strength-building exercises may not relieve pain immediately, although it is possible to experience some relief. The exercises primarily are designed to help promote blood flow to the injured disc, as well as stretch and build strength in the lower back and adjacent muscles (e.g., abdomen, buttocks). Building stronger muscles in these areas will help support your bulging disc as it heals.

Unless otherwise specified, each exercise should be performed for a total of 10 repetitions. Try holding each movement for five seconds.

Note that you should never perform any exercise where you bend at the waist and twist simultaneously. This can exacerbate your bulging disk injury.

Warm-up and Stretching Exercises

You can warm up by bouncing up and down on an exercise ball or the edge of a mattress. Also, jumping up and down on a small trampoline will help warm up your lower back and adjacent muscles.

To stretch, lie down on a hard surface with your feet extended. Grab your right knee and slowly pull it toward your chest, then lower it. Repeat the movement with your left leg and keep alternating until you do the recommended 10 repetitions.

Next, pull both knees toward your chest simultaneously. This exercise will help loosen tight muscles and ligaments in the lower back and hip area.

Brace your arms at your side and slightly twist your knees to the left. Repeat on the other side.

Finally, while lying on the floor (arms at your side for support), twist your body to the left and extend your right leg over your left as far as possible. Repeat on the other side. This exercise stretches muscles on the outside of your lower back as well as your buttocks.

Strength-building Exercises

Lying on the floor with both knees propped, slowly press your lower back to the floor. Hold that position, then relax. This exercise can be highly effective for managing a bulging disc in the lower back.

Doing leg lifts will build strength in your abdomen and lower back. With your feet extended, slowly lift them off the ground about six inches and hold that position.

Kneel down on a mat or rug while bracing both hands on the floor. Lift your right leg up and extend it back as far as you can. Hold that position then bring your leg back down. Repeat the same motion with your other leg.

Finally, lie on your stomach and arch your back to help strengthen muscles surrounding your bulging disc. This exercise helps relieve tension on the disc itself.