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Exercises to Be Avoided With a Degenerative Disc

author image Caroline Thompson
Caroline Thompson is a professional photojournalist who has been working for print and online publications since 1999. Her work has appeared in the "Sacramento Bee," "People Magazine," "Newsweek" and other publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in photojournalism from California State University at Hayward and a personal trainer certification from the university's Health and Fitness Institute.
Exercises to Be Avoided With a Degenerative Disc
Doctor pointing to a spinal X-ray Photo Credit Devonyu/iStock/Getty Images


Discs in the spinal cord serve as cushions between the vertebrae. With age, the cartilage in the body changes and can become weaker, discs dry out and shrink, small tears occur or bone spurs grow. These changes are tied to degenerative disc disease. Physical therapy can ease back pain and help you return to full mobility, but some exercises can aggravate this condition and cause pain or injury.

Contact Sports

If you are suffering with a degenerative disc, any blow from an opponent or contact that causes muscle strain can cause further damage to the disc. Learn professional methods on how to absorb impact properly. Avoid all contact sports until you have training, regained muscular strength and a doctor’s approval.


Hitting balls on the driving range can cause excess muscle strain and ligament damage by stretching or rotating the back structure out of shape. An improper or jerky golf swing can cause serious back injury, cautions the University of Maryland Medical Center. While walking on the golf course is good for basic fitness, the force created by your golf swing can cause pain and injury.

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Weightlifting Exercises

Any lifting or bending exercise can put stress on the back, especially if it not done using the correct form and posture. Dead lifts and squats are not recommended if you have a degenerative disc. Dead lifts, especially if using heavy weights, aggravate pain by putting greater stress on the discs. In addition, they can overstretch the hamstrings and lower back muscles.

Squats put excessive rotational force on the lumbar spine and can cause injury if you suffer from degenerative disc disease or have other lower back injuries.


Avoid sit-ups or any other exercise where you bend forward or twist at the waist. Sit-ups can put pressure on your spine and increase your risk of a compression fracture, according to MayoClinic.com.

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