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"Resting Up" or Lightly Exercising?

Herniated disc folks: how do you figure out the magic amount/type of exercise that will not aggravate your herniated disc? Do you ever exercise while experiencing painful symptoms or is that the time to "rest up"?

My L5/S1 injury perpetually confuses me, and I'm awaiting Epidural #3. I don't usually have resting pain (except awful "shooting daggers in my behind" when lying down in various positions), but I have some foot tingling, and bending over can really hurt my back.

I'd bet that avoiding all exercise would be best for my injury, but some days it feels like it will never heal, and I really need to keep on exercising for my mind/body/spirit. I've tried going on 2-week spurts of doing nothing, and I don't see any immediate impact.

Prior to my injury, I had started really exercising hard, so I was pretty devastated to find that it disrupted my exercise routine (3-4x a week: running, elliptical, yoga, dance classes, training for 10mile run). The past few weeks, I've only gone once or twice on the elliptical.

Any tips?


  • If nothing else I do my stretches (mostly) particularly hamstrings. I've had too many docs/specialists over the years tell me how important it is to keep my hamstrings stretched out. I haven't been able to do them due to surgery (not spine) 2 weeks ago & I'm in the midst of a horrible flare that nothing will touch. I don't know if this is due to everything I've been through or being pretty stationary other than gentle walking & not doing even my stretches.

    My husband was an avid runner. When he reached the 1/2 marathon stage the niggling health issues started. Not enough to stop him heading for the full marathon! A little research revealed that the life of a runner was very, very often the life of pain. Every physical therapist, specialist yoga etc has confirmed that running on hard roads, no matter how expensive your trainers are, is extremely bad for your body, particularly your spine. Given your herniation problems please seriously consider which activities are worth that kind of pain & which aren't. Life in chronic pain is so bloody hard sometimes.

    Have you done any physical therapy?
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • KatnoirKKatnoir Posts: 11
    edited 06/27/2014 - 7:55 AM
    That's good advice about the hamstrings. I should really try doing that.

    I tried PT, and it did "centralize" my pain and alleviate the sciatica (except when lying down) but it triggered some bad foot tingling. I had just started to become a runner when this all happened! Did my first 10K and was training for 10 miler. Sigh... Such is life, but yes: definitely not worth it (for me, anyway)
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,877
    Contact your surgeon to get the formal answers

    Doing too much or too little could make things worse.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • My first PT never even looked at my MRI & was very over zealous causing me more pain. I'm a slow learner (didn't listen to my body) & it took me over 6 months of 'just following orders' to realize I could just find a new therapist! Ugh! My next therapist was fantastic. As Aaron says "It's a process". I follow the routine we developed of exercises & stretches to this day. Good PT isn't a procedure like injections etc. it's a new way of life. As my spine changes I have a couple of appointments just to tweak my routine but mostly I do PT on my own at home. That's the way it should be in my opinion. A good PT should train you to do it on your own & not continue paying for 3x a week for the rest of your life!

    My PT & doc gave me a list of restrictions & my PT trained me the correct way to bend, lift etc. & the other 'regular' exercises & work-outs that I should/shouldn't do. With ongoing spine issues a good PT has been invaluable for me. I can't recommend it highly enough.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
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