Hey lower-back people!
First time poster. I'm curious about 'maintain-mode' exercises and anecdotes about long-term experience for non surgical herniated disk recovery.
My experience---I'm 27, and was first was diagnosed with a lumbar herniated disc a year and say 3 months ago after a back spasm. The first 2 months were terrible/scary, the next three were functional but not great, then I started taking it seriously, got a good physical therapist and went after it, and finally at about the 6 month mark was finally feeling mostly 'normal'---able to put in a day at the office, walk around for up to 90 minute stretches, even lift weights and swim without problems..
I've definitely learned a lot about my spine over that time. Posture was an issue for me and I'm very glad I learned to stand straight, engage the 'corset' muscles, an minimize wacky bends. Sleeping on my back with knees supported by a pillow was very helpful in the early stages of recovery and I continue to do it now---I also do a little traction from time to time during the day. In the later stages of recovery up to today I definitely have to say that two-a-day PT sessions are extremely useful... I can feel the difference the days that I do one vs two sessions. I do a lot of core stuff (planks, back extension stretches, cat-cow, bird-dog, gentle twisty stretches (which actually feel great for me, even though literature sometimes warns against it)) along with foam-rolling and light general fitness stuff (weights, swimming, a little jogging).
But just as I've seemed to find things that work with my back, I've also found things that don't. For example, standing in the same position for extended periods, even with breaks, feels amazing for the first hour or so, (I used to love having a standing desk) but any longer than that is a ticket to a serious flare up. Hamstring stretches, even the 'safe' ones with neutral spine position, tend also to be no-no's. (Interestingly, walking and sitting aren't really problems for me). I do little pain experiments where I try something that I'd like to start doing in a limited way and see how it feels in the moment and 24 hours later. The worst is when it feels great at the time and much worse later due to inflammation.
So, mine is a story of mostly-recovery. Would love to hear yours, or any piece of advice you might think relevant! My top questions are below...
It's weird standing in the same place seems to cause such a different reaction within compared to walking. Has anyone else noticed this?
Do you guys with herniated disk recommend hamstring stretches? I've really avoided em like the plague since I realized they seem to cause flareups.