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Back Pain Center

Exercises for Degenerative Disk Disease of the Lower Back

by
author image Aubrey Bailey
Aubrey Bailey has been writing health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a certified hand therapist.
Exercises for Degenerative Disk Disease of the Lower Back
Low back pain is often caused by degenerative disk disease. Photo Credit RyanKing999/iStock/Getty Images

If you have low back pain, you might have degenerative disk disease. Disks provide cushioning between the bones in your spine, but over time, they can wear out. In fact, this condition is the most common cause of back pain in adults. Exercise, however, can decrease pain and stiffness caused by degenerative disk disease.

Read more: Things that Make Degenerative Disc Disease Worse

Yoga poses often target muscles in your low back.
Yoga poses often target muscles in your low back. Photo Credit fizkes/iStock/Getty Images

Bridging

Although exercise can't reverse damage in your disks, strengthening the muscles in your abdomen and low back help support your spine, easing the pain. Bridging is a strengthening exercise that can easily be progressed as you get stronger.

Step 1

Lie on your back on a firm surface and rest your arms at your sides. Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground. Tighten your ab muscles by flattening your lower back against the ground. Hold this position throughout this exercise.

Step 2

Squeeze your buttocks and push down against the ground with your heels. Lift your hips up toward the ceiling as far as possible while keeping your shoulder blades on the ground. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then slowly lower back down.

Step 3

Repeat this exercise 10 times and work up to three sets in a row.

Step 4

Progress this exercise by performing one-legged bridges. Straighten one leg and lift it up toward the ceiling. In this position, perform 10 bridges with the opposite leg. Repeat on the other side.

Stretching improves back flexibility.
Stretching improves back flexibility. Photo Credit fizkes/iStock/Getty Images

Press-ups

Press-ups can reduce pressure on painful disks.

Step 1

Lie on your stomach on a firm surface. Bend your elbows and bring your forearms under your chest. Stop when your hands are directly under your shoulders.

Step 2

Slowly straighten your elbows, lifting your chest off the ground. Make sure your back muscles stay relaxed throughout this movement. Stop when you feel a comfortable stretch in your low back.

Step 3

Hold for 3 to 5 seconds, then slowly lower back down. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

Cobra Exercise

Although the cobra exercise is similar to a prone press-up, this exercise actually works the muscles in your low back.

Step 1

Lie on your stomach with your arms resting at your sides, palms facing the ceiling.

Step 2

Tighten the muscles in your buttocks and low back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your chest off the ground. Keep your arms relaxed throughout this movement.

Step 3

Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds, then slowly lower back down. Repeat 10 times.

Quadruped Exercise

Exercising on your hands and knees — also called quadruped — uses gravity as resistance for your muscles.

Step 1

Position yourself on your hands and knees on a firm but comfortable surface. Make sure your hands are directly in line with your shoulders and knees in line with your hips.

Step 2

Tighten your abs by pulling your belly button back toward your spine. Don't let your belly drop down toward the ground during these exercises.

Step 3

Keeping your abs tight, slowly reach one arm straight out in front of you. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then lower it back down. Lift the opposite arm. Alternate 10 times.

Step 4

Perform this exercise again by lifting one leg at a time, straight out behind you. Once you've mastered this technique, try lifting the opposite arm and leg at the same time.

Read more: Basic Core Workout

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