Herniated disc or bulging disc in the back is easily one of the commonest conditions us Physios see. Yet it is highly misunderstood. People get into a panic mode as soon as they here that they have a bulging disc. It is important to note that there are different stages of a disc bulge or herniated disc. Not all cases end up on the hospital bed. But even before you think about treatment, prevention is the key. So here are my top 5 tips to avoid a bulging disc in the back!

picture of a man with back pain

1. Do not bend over!

You heard me right! Bending over puts a lot of pressure in the discs of the back causing them to bulge. Instead, use your legs! Squat down to lift even a piece of paper from the floor. This will avoid undue stresses on the discs in your back. Now normally a disc acts like a sock absorber for any strenuous activity that you do. Using the wrong form to bend over can put too much stress on the disc over time causing it to bulge. Haven’t you heard of people saying ” oh I just bent over to put dishes in the dishwasher and bam!there went my back!”. So next time you decide to bend over, think again.

2. Do not slouch to prevent a herniated disc in your lower back

Would you believe me if I said slouching puts as much pressure on the disc as bending over?! well, well, well we all heard our mothers and teachers say ” sit up straight”. I think they were right. It’s important to support your lower back when sitting. You can place a little cushion in the curve of your back. Especially so when you are sitting for a while . For example a long drive. Make sure the lower back is supported. This will definitely prevent bulging disc in the back.

3. If you are a gym junkie, increasing the intensity of your workouts abruptly can cause a herniated disc

I get it. You were so into your exercise routine and then came Christmas! or that holiday you had been waiting for! And you ended up with a few kilos extra. But you swore that you will get back to your bikini body. What do you do? you hit the gym 6 times a week with the same intensity you were doing before the break. Na-ah! Big mistake.  This will put tremendous pressure on your lower back discs. Especially on doing deadlifts leading to a herniated disc. Hence, it is important to progress slowly with weights. Give yourself at least a week to get used to the new intensity of weights. This is true even of you are only doing cardio by the way.

4. Strengthen your core to prevent a herniated disc

According to an article on webmed, the only prevention for back pain is exercise! So what is this fuss about core strengthening? And I am not just talking about doing crunches here. Crunches only work on the bigger muscles of your tummy. You need to work on the much smaller muscles around your back. That is your core! And these small muscles work only when you do exercises like planks or stability exercises. Of course your core will work when you lift any kind of weight in the gym. But it is also important to actively tuck in your core muscles while lifting weights. You will be surprised to hear that a few bodybuilders we see, in fact, have weak cores, although they may have been working on their “abs”.

5. Avoid sitting for more than 30 mins to prevent a herniated disc in the back

Well latest research suggests that prolonged sitting is one of the worst things you can do for your back. So what are we to do? Well the best thing would be to keep changing your position. Now don’t go standing for hours on end because you are trying to avoid sitting. Anything in excess is not good. Hence, it’s best to keep moving. Whether you are sitting or standing, change it every 30 minutes. This will prevent undue stresses on your discs causing a herniated disc.