Exercises that help ease lumbar herniated disc pain can be difficult to find—especially if you’re looking for ones you don’t have to perform lying on the floor.

If you find it more comfortable to stand up or sit in a chair while you exercise, here are 3 beginner-level exercises you can try. Check with your doctor for his or her recommendations first.

See Lumbar Herniated Disc: What You Should Know


Waiter’s bow

The waiter’s bow is a standing exercise that strengthens the muscles in your buttocks, which makes things easier on your lower back. For support, you can do this exercise with your hands placed on a tall bed or stool in front of you.

  1. Stand upright.
  2. Gently bend at the hips, maintaining the natural curve in your lower back without rounding your upper back.
  3. Bend forward as much as comfort allows.
  4. Return to standing position by squeezing your buttocks and slowly driving your hips forward, like a hinge, rather than arching your back and lifting your torso.

Because you bend with your hips and not your lower back, this exercise is gentle on your body.

See Easy Exercise Program for Low Back Pain Relief

Seated hamstring stretch

A common approach to stretching your hamstrings is to lie down or stand and reach for your toes, but that position can aggravate a disc herniation. Instead, try stretching your hamstrings while comfortably seated in a chair:

  1. Sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor.
  2. Extend 1 leg straight out in front of you so the heel is in contact with the floor.
  3. Slowly lean forward, keeping your shoulders upright, until you feel a stretch behind your thigh.
  4. Hold this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, or very lightly rock in and out of the stretch if a prolonged hold irritates your nerve.

Watch: Seated Chair Hamstring Stretch for Sciatica Relief Video

This exercise is an easy way to stay seated while you loosen your tight hamstrings, which may help ease pain from a lumbar herniated disc.

View Slideshow: Hamstring Stretches for Back Pain Relief

Standing backbend

The standing backbend is similar to a prone extension exercise that people typically perform lying on the ground, which helps strengthen your lower back muscles. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Stand straight up and place your hands on your lower back right above your buttocks.
  2. Gently drive your hips forward and arch backwards.
  3. Keep your thighs and buttocks tight and engaged.
  4. Hold this position for 1 second and then slowly return to the original position.

Watch: Sciatica Exercises for a Herniated Disc Video

For extra support, you may want to try this stretch using a wall:

  1. Stand and face a wall. Place your hands against the wall at hip level.
  2. Gently shift your hips toward the wall, keeping your shoulders in place.
  3. Keep your thighs and buttocks tight and engaged.
  4. Hold this position for 1 second and then slowly return to the original position.

If you have lumbar herniated disc pain, try these 3 easy exercises so you can improve flexibility, build strength, and find relief—without the hassle of getting on the floor and getting back up again.

Learn more:

Exercise for Sciatica from a Herniated Disc

Non-Surgical Treatment for a Lumbar Herniated Disc

Ron Miller is a licensed physical therapist with more than 20 years of experience specializing in spine care. He helped develop the physical therapy department at the NeuroSpine Center of Wisconsin, where he focuses on manual therapy, spinal stabilization, and therapeutic exercises.