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Bulging Disc Exercises

Soothe Your Spine: 10 Best Bulging Disc Exercises for Pain Relief

Dealing with a bulging disc can sideline you from life’s daily rhythms. If you’re looking for exercises to help alleviate pain without exacerbating your condition, you’ve come to the right place. This straightforward guide delivers practical bulging disc exercises to fortify your back health and soothe discomfort. Get ready to empower your recovery journey with steps that can lead to lasting improvement.

Key Takeaways

  • A bulging disc, which can be exacerbated by factors like excess weight and a sedentary lifestyle, may lead to significant pain and complications such as cauda equina syndrome if untreated.
  • Though often confused, bulging discs and herniated discs differ in their causes and symptoms, with herniated discs usually resulting from acute injuries and bulging discs from age-related degeneration.
  • Exercise plays a vital role in managing bulging disc pain, with specific exercises aimed at strengthening support muscles, enhancing flexibility, and ensuring spinal mobility to prevent further Injury.

Understanding Bulging Discs and Their Impact on Your Life

Illustration of spinal disc anatomy

A bulging disc occurs when the substance inside an intervertebral disc is pushed towards the nerves and structures of the spine, potentially resulting in pain and other symptoms. This condition is common, but certain risk factors can increase its likelihood.

Some potential contributors to a bulging disc include excessive body weight, physically demanding occupations, genetic predisposition, smoking habits, frequent driving, and leading a sedentary lifestyle. These factors may lead to symptoms, such as numbness or weakness in affected areas, which can significantly interfere with daily activities if left unattended.

Failure to address this issue could result in complications, including cauda equina syndrome – a severe condition causing issues like urinary problems, incontinence or saddle anaesthesia- which might require urgent surgery.

Ignoring early signs of discomfort caused by severe instances of this problem amplifies the possibility for it to worsen; this often results in emergency surgeries becoming necessary. Prompt intervention prevents increased repercussions, some even requiring drastic remedies like removing all discs surrounding vertebrae. Such situations highlight how imperative timely action is towards treating back conditions.

Identifying the Differences: Bulging Disc vs. Herniated Disc

Although often used interchangeably, there are distinctions between bulging and herniated discs. A bulging disc can be likened to an underinflated tyre protruding outward, involving at least 25% of the disc’s perimeter. In contrast, a herniated disc occurs when a tear allows inner material to jut out from its usual position. If left untreated, some cases of bulging discs may progress into herniation.

Not only do these two conditions have different names, but their causes and symptoms also differ. Acute injuries commonly result in herniated discs, which can cause severe pain due to irritation of nerve roots. Age-related degeneration contributes more towards developing bulging discs with a gradual onset of discomfort.

Interestingly enough, individuals aged between 25 – 55 most frequently experience lower back pain caused by sciatica originating from spinal nerve root involvement approximately 95 per cent of the time.

The Role of Exercise in Managing Bulging Disc Pain

Illustration of bulging disc exercises

Regular physical activity is essential to managing pain caused by a bulging disc. This can be achieved through various means, such as:

  • It strengthens the muscles supporting the spine, alleviates pressure on the spinal column, and enhances flexibility.
  • Physical therapy, often including exercises, is commonly recommended for non-surgical treatment of bulging disc symptoms.

Regular exercise can prevent bulging discs by strengthening core muscles, maintaining proper posture, and weight management.

Enhenhanceexibility and redreduceflammation help relieve pain from a bulging disc injury. Gentle exercises and stretches also reduce the likelihood of recurrence. Moreover, they use ice or heat therapies alongside exercise to aid muscle relaxation during recovery while helping with strength-building processes.

Exercise #1: Gentle Hamstring Stretch for Lower Back Relief

The Gentle Hamstring Stretch is a beneficial workout for individuals with a herniated disc in the lumbar spine. It can relieve tension in the lower back and legs, making it an efficient method to decrease discomfort and increase flexibility. This straightforward exercise has proven to be effective at promoting the overall well-being of those suffering from spinal issues such as herniated discs.

How to Perform It

Lie on your back with a rolled-up towel and hold one end in each hand. Place the towel behind one foot and gently pull it towards your body until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstring while keeping your knee slightly bent. Aim to hold this position for at least 10 seconds as a beginner. Gradually increase the duration to 30-60 seconds as you become more flexible.

Perform this exercise twice daily for both legs, completing 4-5 repetitions per set and two sets overall. To maintain consistency, incorporate these stretches into your morning or bedtime routine.

Exercise #2: Supported Bridge Pose for Core Strengthening

Illustration of supported bridge pose

Next, we transition into the Supported Bridge Pose, an excellent method for engaging and building strength in multiple muscle groups, including the core abdominals, back muscles, hips, and hamstrings. This exercise effectively supports overall spine health by incorporating various joints and challenging postures that promote the development of these essential core muscles. To perform this exercise:

How to Do It

To begin the supported bridge pose, gently tilt your pelvis to stretch your lower back and pelvic region muscles. If you have concerns about your back, consider using a block under your sacrum for extra support. Ensure it is placed evenly under the sacrum rather than the tailbone or lower back to avoid discomfort.

It’s essential to continuously monitor for pain or discomfort while holding this Pose to prevent Injury. If needed, consult a healthcare professional before continuing this exercise routine.

Exercise #3: Cat-Cow Stretch for Spinal Mobility

In the Cat-Cow Stretch, we alternate between arching and rounding our back to enhance spinal mobility. This movement increases flexibility in various areas, including the neck, shoulders, spine, hip muscles, back muscles, and abdominal and chest regions.

How to Execute It

To start, place yourself on all fours in a tabletop position with your wrists directly below your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. When performing the Cow pose, take a deep breath as you lower your belly towards the ground, lifting both chin and chest upwards while looking towards the ceiling to create an arched back. Then, on inhale, transition into Cat pose by pulling inwards at the stomach muscles, which will round out the spine upward towards the sky and drop the head downward to complete this stretch safely and effectively. Make sure to maintain slow fluid motions synchronized with each inhale and exhale for optimal results.

Exercise #4: Supine Twist for Spinal Decompression

Next, we will demonstrate the Supine Twist, which can improve spinal decompression and promote a healthy spine by creating movement and space within the vertebrae. This stretch specifically targets the health of your spinal cord.

How to Perform It

To start the supine twist, follow these instructions:

  1. Begin by lying on your back with both knees bent and feet resting flat on the floor while extending your arms in a ‘T’ shape.
  2. Prepare for the twist by pushing into your feet, slightly raising your hips off of the ground, and shifting them to one side.
  3. While bringing one knee towards your chest and extending it straightened outwards from this position.

Execute the twisting movement by gently lowering that same extended leg to rest alongside its respective thigh as you maintain both shoulders pressed against the ground.

Exercise #5: Pelvic Tilt for Lumbar Stability

Moving onto the pelvic tilt, this workout explicitly targets the core muscles essential for maintaining pelvic tilt. Participating in this exercise helps to promote a stable and balanced pelvis position, which is crucial for achieving proper posture and reducing discomfort.

How to Do It

To perform the pelvic tilt exercise, lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and bend your knees. Engage your abdominal muscles to flatten out any arch in your lower back. Exhale as you lift slightly by tilting the pelvis backwards; hold for about 10 seconds before releasing. Keep a slight bend in both knee joints throughout this effective workout for strengthening core muscles.

Exercise #6: Bird-Dog for Core and Back Muscle Strengthening

Next, we will discuss the Bird-Dog exercise, which has been shown to decrease back pain potentially and is deemed safe for individuals recovering from back injuries. This activity helps strengthen the core muscles and improve spinal stability, making it a suitable option for addressing pain in this body area.

How to Execute It

Start kneeling on an exercise mat with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders to perform the bird-dog exercise. Keep your body in a tabletop position with knees hip-width apart and hands shoulder-width apart.

To do the bird-dog:

  1. Simultaneously extend one arm and the opposite leg to create a straight line with your body.
  2. Make sure to keep your hips parallel to the ground.
  3. Hold this position for a few seconds before switching legs and repeating.

Exercise #7: Child’s Pose for Gentle Spinal Stretching

Next is the Child’s Pose, a friendly yoga position suitable for those just starting their practice. It can be adapted to suit different levels of fitness and flexibility. This stretch primarily focuses on strengthening the lower back muscles and improving flexibility in the inner thighs, two critical areas that help reduce tightness.

How to Perform It

To start Child’s Pose, follow these instructions:

  1. Come onto your knees with toes touching and knees spaced hip-width apart.
  2. Place hands on thighs for support.

Use this Pose as a break between more strenuous ones, staying in it until you are ready to continue.

For optimal results, take slow, deep breaths for at least eight cycles of inhalation and exhalation while holding the posture.

Exercise #8: Seated Forward Fold for Hamstring Flexibility

Following is the Seated Forward Fold, which targets multiple muscles along the back of our body. This Pose effectively stretches calf muscles, hamstrings, inner thigh adductors, and those running alongside our spine.

How to Do It

To get ready for the Seated Forward Fold, begin by:

  1. Position yourself seated with your legs extended straight out in front of you.
  2. You are flexing your feet and pushing your heels away from you.
  3. If you are new to this Pose or have tight hamstrings, place a folded blanket under your knees or sit at the edge of one to provide support and ease into the stretch comfortably without straining yourself.

Exercise #9: Side Plank for Core and Oblique Strengthening

The Side Plank is an effective exercise for strengthening the core and obliques. This workout can aid in stabilizing the spine, providing extra support that may alleviate discomfort caused by a bulging disc.

How to Perform It

To start the side plank, lay on your side with both legs straight. Pair your elbow directly beneath your shoulder and keep the other arm beside your body. For a more basic version of this exercise, you can bend both knees 90 degrees and stack them together.

Exercise #10: Knees-to-Chest Stretch for Lower Back Relief

Next, we will discuss the Knees-to-Chest Stretch, which focuses on back flexion. This movement aims to stretch and lengthen both the spine and muscles in your back for improved flexibility and relief. You engage various muscle groups that support a healthy back by bringing your knees towards your chest.

How to Do It

Initiate the Knees-to-Chest Stretch by:

  1. Positioning yourself on your back with both knees flexed and feet resting flat on the floor.
  2. You slowly draw one knee or both towards your torso.
  3. Grasping beneath the bent knee(s) using hands to support lower legs at this point


In summary, effectively handling pain caused by bulging discs does not have to be a challenging task. Incorporating proper exercises into your routine can strengthen your core and increase flexibility for an improved quality of life. Consistency is crucial in this process, and every small step towards a healthier lifestyle should be celebrated as a victory.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can exercise fix a bulging disc?

Regular physical activity can promote back strength, improve spine stability, and alleviate pressure on a bulging disc. It should be noted that exercise alone may not directly resolve issues with a bulging disc. Before beginning any vigorous workout regimen, seeking advice from a medical expert is imperative.

What is the fastest way to heal a bulging disc?

To speed up the healing of a bulging disc, it is important to practice self-care measures such as limiting physical activity, utilizing both ice and heat therapy, and taking over-the-counter medication. In most cases, individuals can expect improvement within 4 to 6 weeks.

For optimal recovery from a bulging disc, gradually returning to normal activities while avoiding prolonged bed rest can also be beneficial.

What should you not do with a bulging disc?

If you are dealing with a bulging disc, avoiding exercises that can strain your lower back, such as running, jogging, jumping, and high-impact activities like golf and tennis, is essential. These movements can cause repetitive stress on the affected area, worsening the condition. It’s also best to avoid leg presses, toe touches and sit-ups, as they can exert significant force on the disc.

What makes bulging discs worse?

The bulging disc condition can be aggravated by repeated bending stress and poor body mechanics, causing the disc’s inner material to move backward. This worsens the problem and may result in herniation.

Activities such as coughing, sneezing, sitting for prolonged periods, driving or bending forward can all contribute to increased pressure on nerves associated with pain from a bulging disc. Maintaining proper posture and avoiding these movements is essential to alleviate discomfort caused by this condition.

What is the difference between a bulging disc and a herniated disc?

A herniated disc is characterized by a tear in the disc’s outer layer, causing the inner material to protrude. On the other hand, a bulging disc refers to when the entire disc sags and bulges outward.

These two conditions differ mainly in how they affect the disk’s structure. While a herniated disc involves damage that leads to material being pushed outwards, a bulimia disc involves damage that leads to material being pushed outwards.

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