Approximately one in every 50 people will experience the pain, weakness and numbness of a herniated disk in their life, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Initial treatment includes a short period of rest, after which most people can return to normal activities and make a complete recovery with the aid of physical therapy. If you are overweight, diet and exercise will aid your recovery and reduce the risk of further injury by reducing your weight. Never perform any exercise or stretch without first obtaining clearance from your physician or physical therapist.
Losing Weight Benefits Healing
Your spine supports much of your body's weight, so the heavier you are, the more strain you put on your back. According to Dr. Jason M. Highsmith of SpineUniverse, when you lose excess weight, there is a chance that your herniated disk will resolve itself. Highsmith notes that eating a healthy diet will help address your weight issues, while regular exercise strengthens the muscles that support your spine.
Losing weight requires one basic thing: burning more calories than you consume. This allows you to start losing weight even if you can't begin exercising yet. Start by keeping a journal of how many calories you consume daily for three days. Add the three totals together and divide the result by three to find your average daily intake, then subtract 250. The result is your new daily calorie limit. According to Harvard Medical School, this will help you lose half of a pound each week.
Healthful Dietary Choices
Make eating fewer calories easier by replacing any high-calorie junk food in your diet with fruits, vegetables and lean meats. These foods provide more nutrients and let you eat enough to feel full while staying within your calorie limits. Reducing your portion sizes helps cut calories, too -- it doesn't have to be dramatic, just avoid going back for seconds and fill your plate with about 75 percent of what you usually do. ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends making half of every meal fruits and vegetables, one-fourth lean protein and one-fourth grains, with a side of low-fat dairy.
Performing a light workout routine three to four times a week will help you burn more calories and strengthen your muscles without doing damage to your back. Start slow with short exercise sessions and work up to longer sessions as you gain strength and lose weight. Ask your physical therapist or physician for a recommendation on which low-impact exercises are safest for you.
Physical Activity Warning
Starting your exercises too early or doing the wrong ones could do more harm than good. If the pain in your spine becomes worse or if you develop new symptoms, stop physical activity immediately and talk to your physician. Do not resume normal activity until you have clearance to do so.