Most people with herniated discs in their lower backs feel their pain ease within 6 weeks. It can be excruciating in the meantime, however—especially if that person moves in a way that provokes symptoms. Several common activities trigger herniated disc pain. Here are a few to avoid.
Sitting on a couch or soft chair
You would think resting on a soft, sinking seat would bring comfort to your hurting back. However, sitting puts more stress on your spinal discs, especially when slouching in a cushy seat. To minimize pain, stand or lie down as much as possible. Use a standing desk to get work done on a computer. When you do sit down, use a firm non-reclining chair and tuck a lumbar support device behind your lower back.
Between bending down to pick up clothes, carrying a heavy basket, and reaching for various items, doing laundry puts a lot of pressure on your lower back. If possible, ask a friend or family member to help carry out this task until your herniated disc heals. Many dry cleaners also offer a regular laundry service.
The repetitive forward-lunging motion often used to vacuum the floor can irritate your herniated disc. Instead of extending your arm and bending your back, keep your back straight and walk the vacuum across the floor; think of your legs doing the work instead of your arms. Better yet, buy a robot vacuum cleaner to do the work for you. With this device, you can set it and forget it.
Feeding a pet
It may seem like a simple task, but bending down to fill the pet’s bowl with food and water is enough to cause a painful flare-up. If you’re unable to delegate this responsibility to someone else, purchase a specialty pet bowl equipped with an extended tube or built-in reaching aid.
Exercising in ways not approved by a doctor or physical therapist
It is recommended you still exercise with a herniated disc, but certain movements should be avoided due to the stress they place on your discs.
Skip weightlifting movements that involve bending or lifting, such as squats and leg presses, as well as toe-touches, situps, and many yoga poses. These workouts can all aggravate herniated disc symptoms.
Instead, engage in low-impact aerobic exercises, such as aquatic exercise and walking, as well as strengthening exercises approved by a doctor or physical therapist. Err on the side of caution if you’re unsure.
Shoveling snow can worsen your disc pain, as it often involves heavy lifting, forward-bending, and twisting—motions that easily aggravate your discs. Use a snowblower if you can, or get help from a neighbor.
While you may feel bad asking for favors, giving yourself time to heal will allow you to be more independent in the long run.
Try out these activity-modifications and see if you find your herniated disc pain reduced.