Q&A: Herniated Disc
Q: I herniated L5 S1 disc in my back last summer and re-injured it again this spring. I have tightness in the left hamstring and calf. I am an avid cyclist. I just finished my first week of your "Decreasing Pain and Tightness" training program. Will these exercises help my injury or should they be modified based on my problem? – Justin, Fort Polk, LA
A: The primary concern in the rehabilitation of disc injuries, particularly in the lumbar spine, is the ability to create and maintain proper core stability, along with understanding the idea of a neutral spine posture. Activating your core properly utilizing the obliques will play an important role in decreasing excess stress and load off of your lumbar discs.
Also, if you have a notable asymmetry or imbalance in muscle length (such as the hamstring), you should get attention from a licensed health care professional who can perform a thorough evaluation of the legs, hips, pelvic, and trunk in regard to alignment, muscle length and strength.
Finally, as a cyclist, you already spend a lot of time with your lower back in a flexed position, so it’s very important to stretch your hip flexors and dedicate specific time combating that prolonged positioning that contributes to increased pressure on your discs.