Stretching, strengthening and low-impact aerobic conditioning exercises are good for people suffering from a herniated disk, sciatica or lower back pain, according to Spine-health. The types of exercise depend on the patient's diagnosis and level of pain, and a physical therapist or chiropractic physician can determine an appropriate exercise program.
Stretching helps relieve stiffness, mobilizes the spine and soft tissues and increases range of motion, states Spine-health. Stretching improves elasticity and flexibility in muscles, ligaments, tendons and disks. Exercises should work muscles adjacent to the injured area as well. Muscles such as the hamstrings work to support the pelvis and reduce stress in the low back.
Strengthening exercises are important to reduce the risk of future injury, notes Spine-health. Two forms of strengthening exercises include the McKenzie method and lumbar stabilization. The McKenzie method focuses on spinal extension to reduce pain from a collapsed or herniated disk and relieve pressure on the nerve root. Lumbar stabilization helps patients neutralize the spine and train muscles to support and operate in a stabilized position.
Low-impact aerobic exercise helps reduce pain frequency and intensity, explains Spine-health. Walking, stationary biking and water therapy are generally well-tolerated exercises for back patients. Walking for 20 to 30 minutes a day at a sustained pace is optimal for aerobic conditioning.