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Degenerative Disc Disease Exercises

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Exercises for Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease generally causes pain in the low back, but if a damaged disc pinches a nerve root in the lower back, it can also cause pain that radiates into the buttocks, thigh and shoots down the thigh into the leg. This type of pain is known as sciatica.

The type of exercises for degenerative disc disease and sciatica is a dynamic lumbar stabilization program. The form of exercises for degenerative disc disease used in the McKenzie Method is often included in the exercise for degenerative disc disease regimen. 

Relief of the discomfort caused by nerve compression requires discovering the most relaxed and least painful position for the pelvis and the lumbar vertebrae and then teaching the body to hold this position when moving through daily tasks. When done correctly, these exercises for degenerative disc disease can decrease movement in the vertebral segments and reduce irritation and inflammation of the nerves. This helps decrease pain and protects the region from further injury.  

Some examples of dynamic lumbar stabilizing exercises are exercises for degenerative disc disease while lying on the stomach and degenerative disc disease exercises while lying on the back.

Exercise #1: Hook-lying March

  1. Lie on your back on the floor. Place a small pillow or a small rolled towel under the small of your back for support.
  2. Bend your legs at the knees. Your arms are at your sides.
  3. Tighten your abdominal muscles and, one at a time, slowly raise your feet 3 to 4 inches off the floor in a "marching" motion.
  4. Try to "march" for about 30 seconds.
  5. Rest for 30 seconds.
  6. Repeat two or three times.
  7. Try to keep your back still and straight throughout the exercise and remember to hold your abdominal muscles tight. 

Exercise #2: Hook-lying March Combination

This exercises for degenerative disc disease is the same as the one just described, but in addition to marching with your feet, raise and lower your arms. 

  1. When you "march" with your right leg, raise your left arm over your head.
  2. When you "march" with your left leg, raise your right arm over your head. 
  3. Remember to hold your back straight and still, and your abdominal muscles tight. 

Exercise #3: Bridging

  1. Lie on your back on the floor.
  2. Place a small pillow or a rolled towel under your head for support.
  3. Bend your legs at the knees, placing your feet flat on the floor.
  4. Tense your abdominal muscles and slowly raise your buttocks off the floor.
  5. Hold this "bridge" position for 5 to 10 seconds.
  6. Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position and relax for 10 seconds.
  7. Repeat 10 times.
  8. Remember to keep your back straight and your abdominal muscles tense. 

Exercise #4: Pelvic Tilt

In order to find the most comfortable and least painful position for your lower back, the pelvic tilt can be used. To do this, tighten the muscles in your buttocks and in your lower stomach. This exercises for degenerative disc disease will flatten the low portion of the back. 
Pelvic Tilt A
  1. Starting position is lying on your abdomen on the floor
  2. Your forearms can be bent at the elbows, forearms, and palms on the floor.
  3. Slowly lift one leg. Keep your knee bent only slightly. There should be no arch in your neck or in your back.
  4. Hold this position for the count of five.
  5. Slowly lower your leg
  6. Repeat with the opposite leg
  7. Set your goal for 10 lifts with each leg. 
Pelvic Tilt B
  1. Starting position is lying on your abdomen of the floor.
  2. Your arms are stretched out straight in front of your head, no bend at the elbows.
  3. Slowly raise one arm and the opposite leg at the same time, about 2 or 3 inches from the floor.
  4. Hold this position for the count of five.
  5. Slowly lower your arm and leg to the starting position.
  6. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
  7. Set your goal for 10 repetitions with each side.

Exercise #5: 4-Point Position

Stabilizing exercises for degenerative disc disease can also be done on your hands and knees. This is sometimes known as the 4-point position. Be sure to avoid any twisting in your spine, don't allow your lower back to sag and raise your legs and arms only as high as your pain will allow. It is very important to maintain control your trunk position for this exercise. 

4-Point Position A

  1. Starting position is on your hands and knees on the floor
  2. Raise one leg straight out behind you, with your knee slightly bent
  3. Make certain there is no arch in your neck or in your back
  4. Hold this position for a count of five
  5. Slowly lower your leg to the starting position
  6. Repeat with the opposite leg
  7. Set your goal for 10 lifts with each leg

4-Point Position B

These exercises for degenerative disc disease is more advanced than the previous one but is very similar. While raising your left leg, also raise your right arm up and forward. Hold for the count of five, then slowly lower your arm and leg to the starting position. Repeat with your right leg and left arm. 

Set your goal for 10 repetitions of each leg/arm combination raises.

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