Exercise programs that incorporate strengthening, stretching and aerobic conditioning are important for those suffering from pain caused by an injured intervertebral disc, according to Spine-health. Pain from a herniated disc often makes exercise more difficult, but proper nutrition for the spine relies on water and nutrients absorbed by the discs through physical activity. It's best for individuals to consult a physical or occupational therapist, chiropractic physician or rehabilitation physician to develop an appropriate exercise program that emphasizes proper techniques.
Stretching increases the flexibility, elasticity and range of motion in the spine and soft tissues, including discs, muscles, ligaments and tendons, explains Spine-health. The benefits of stretching come about over many months of consistent training, and stretching can provide sustained relief for back pain. Patients should focus on stretches that work areas of the body that are both directly and indirectly impacted, including muscles such as hamstrings.
Strengthening exercises are an excellent form of prevention for future episodes of back pain, according to Spine-health. Progressive loading and unloading of the lumbar spine through flexion and extension can reduce pain, and isolation exercises are often best for rehabilitation work. Extension exercises may also reduce pain and pressure on the nerve root as well as improve the herniated disc. Exercises focused on stabilizing the lumbar spine improve alignment, posture and position by training patients to maintain a neutral spine.
Low-impact aerobic conditioning such as walking, stationary biking and water therapy helps patients with long-term rehabilitation and maintenance of spine and back health, as noted by Spine-health. Aerobically fit individuals experience fewer episodes of back pain, and less pain is associated with those occurrences. Patients may choose the form of aerobic activity best suited to their preferences in accordance with guidance from a medical professional.