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Apr 25, 2012


Your lumbar spine is made up of five vertebrae separated by discs. When the discs rupture or herniate, you may experience symptoms such as back and leg pain, sciatica, muscle spasms or cramping. Poor posture, sitting for long hours in front of your computer, inactivity, twisting and turning motions and the aging process contribute to lumbar disc herniation. Exercise may be beneficial for reducing pain and increasing your range of motion.

Low back pain and exercise

When you suffer from lumbar disc pain, you might think the best thing to do is stop with your regular activities and rest in bed. While bed rest and stopping certain activities may help in the beginning, you should resume your normal activities as soon as possible. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, exercise is one of the most beneficial ways of treating and helping recovery from lower back pain. Certain stretching and mobility exercises can help encourage flexibility and improve your range of motion.

Benefits of exercise

Exercise is beneficial for lumbar disc pain for a number of reasons. When you exercise, your brain produces natural pain-killing chemicals known as endorphins, which can help alleviate lower back pain and may help reduce depressive symptoms related to your pain. According to psychiatrist Daniel K. Hall-Flavin of, depression can be a cause of chronic pain and chronic pain can also cause depression. Exercise enables you to take charge of your pain and helps you to feel better about yourself. The physical benefits of exercise include strengthening your abdominal and lower back muscles, which can help prevent or reduce pain, increase your flexibility through certain stretching exercises like yoga, and help you develop better posture. In an article for BackCare, author Keith Tippey points out that exercise can also improve circulation to spinal joints and help your muscles stay flexible and supple, reducing the likelihood of back spasms.


Walking is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise for back pain. Walking is a low-impact activity that places little strain on your joints, can be performed almost anywhere and, aside from purchasing suitable walking shoes, is a low-cost form of exercise. Yoga, Pilates and tai chi are also helpful for lumbar back pain, because specific exercises and postures encourage range of motion, help to gently stretch your muscles and ligaments and increase circulation to your lower back. According to Spine Health, these exercises can improve your quality of life and alleviate pain. Many yoga studios, gyms and community centers offer specific classes tailored to back pain patients.

Contraindicated Exercises

Certain exercises are not recommended if you suffer from lumbar disc pain. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, exercises that strain your lumbar spine, such as leg lifts performed in a face-down position, straight leg pushups and leg curl exercises using an exercise apparatus should be avoided. If you're uncertain as to whether a specific exercise will exacerbate your symptoms, consult your doctor or a physical therapist.