Is walking good for a herniated disc? What physical activities are recommended?

FormaDo you suffer from a lumbar disc herniation and want to know if walking is good for it? The answer will depend a lot on what stage of the condition you’re in, because, in some cases, the pain can be incapacitating. Read more to find out when it is advisable to walk with a herniated disc, and some other recommended physical activities.  

A herniated disc can lead to low back pain, sciatic nerve pain, a bothersome sensation of tingling, loss of strength in the legs, and pain when getting up. When this happens. the person is in a phase in which walking can be very uncomfortable and it would be best to rest.

When the lumbar disc herniation is in an acute or semi-acute phase, the inflammation of the sciatic nerve is likely to become so disabling that the person cannot walk, and even standing becomes quite painful. If this sounds like your situation, we recommend rest until the inflammation subsides.

"This rest cannot go on too long, because eventually, it could make recovery more difficult. If the symptoms and difficulty moving continue after 48 hours of rest, it would be best to consult a specialist,” explains physiotherapist Iria Rabell. 

When it doesn’t take too much effort, or the discomfort is not as strong as that described above, walking or doing gentle exercise will benefit your health and can be done on your own without risk of injury, even with a herniated disc. Walking is one of the simplest ways there is to stay healthy and fit, but it should always be painless and adapted to your level of tolerance. Some benefits of walking are:

  • Strengthens muscles  
  • Helps with body balance  
  • Aids good posture  
  • Improves circulation  
  • Helps prevent cardiovascular diseases

Therefore, if your problem is only mild lower back pain, walking will always be a permitted activity. Of course, make sure to wear appropriate footwear; it should be lightweight, and must have additional cushioning on the soles to offer greater support.

Dr. Barbero gives advice on how to walk without harming your back

Can I play sports with a herniated disc?

In general, the answer is yes, as long as they are not high impact activities, because those can worsen your condition. It's best to avoid exercises that involve movements like jumping or sharp turns.

However, remember that if you suffer from a disc herniation in your lumbar spine, you must get your doctor’s approval before performing any type of exercise and physical activity. Next, we tell you what physical activities are usually allowed in these cases:  

  1. Swimming allows you to free the body of much of its own weight. This prevents a direct impact on the bones, so it is one of the most frequently recommended activities. But, as our physiotherapist Iria Rabell points out, "You need to know that if you do not have a good swimming technique, you can cause pain in your neck, shoulders, and lower back. Therefore, for recovery from a disc hernia, it is advisable to do water exercises before swimming and gradually add different styles, always adapting to each situation.” At Instituto Clavel Rehabilitation we offer virtual sessions, where physical therapists can teach and prescribe aquatic exercises in writing according to your physical condition and injury, which will help you speed up the recovery process. 
  2. Low-intensity aerobic exercises help strengthen bones. In addition, they improve cardiovascular function. 
  3. Tai chi, can help you relax, in addition to keeping you fit, improving flexibility and working on your posture. It can help reduce stress. You should know that there are many styles of tai chi, so, when someone is in a recovery process, they should do it under the guidance of a tai chi professional who is familiar with spinal problems, and it must be performed at a gentle, therapeutic level.
  4. If you’re a Pilates fan, you can keep doing it as long as you have the approval of your specialist. Although its origin had therapeutic purposes, without proper training, performing it incorrectly can worsen the injury. The best choice would be to turn to a specialized center to practice it with the help of a professional. At Instituto Clavel Rehabilitation we have Pilates reformer sessions guided by physical therapists specialized in the spine. 

Sports to strengthen the back

At Instituto Clavel Rehabilitation, our professionals will help you achieve your goals through a training plan based on your physical condition. Within the personalized training program, you will gain greater control over your body, you will be able to reduce the risk of injuries and increase your strength. 

Before beginning the program, all patients first undergo an examination and evaluation by our physical therapists, who will then design the treatment and exercise program appropriate for your condition.

Contact our physical therapists

Categories: Prevention, Wellness, Back pain

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