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What Core Exercises Can I Do With Degenerative Disc Disease & Herniated Discs?

author image Crystal Welch
Crystal Welch has a 30-year writing history. Her more than 2,000 published works have been included in the health and fitness-related Wellness Directory, Earthdance Press and Higher Source. She is an award-winning writer who teaches whole foods cooking and has written a cookbook series. She operates an HON-code-certified health-related blog with more than 95,000 readers. Welch has a B.B.A. from Eastern Michigan University.
What Core Exercises Can I Do With Degenerative Disc Disease & Herniated Discs?
A man and woman are exercising in a pool. Photo Credit: kzenon/iStock/Getty Images

Degenerative disc disease occurs over time as your spinal column performs everyday activities and weakens. Herniated discs occur when the interior of a spinal disk is squeezed out through a weakened section of the disk, placing additional pressure on surrounding nerves and irritating them. Both conditions commonly affect the lower back area. Gentle core exercises play a crucial role in reducing back strain, improving posture and supporting the spine.

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Posture Enhancers

Maintaining proper posture can offset the symptoms of spinal conditions such as degenerative disc disease and herniated disks, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Spine Center. Strengthen your core muscles to better support your lower back by sitting upright in a firm chair. Place your feet firmly on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and bring your belly button toward the back of the chair. Hold this tension for 10 seconds. Release the tension and relax for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 times.

Floor Curls

Once pain has moved from the legs to lower back area, core exercises for degenerative disc disease and herniated discs can concentrate on strengthening abdominal muscles. Strong abdominal muscles help reduce sciatica and lower back pain while protecting against pain progression, according to physical therapist Ron Miller at Spine-Health. Strengthen your upper abdominals by doing a curling maneuver. Lie on your back on an exercise mat with your knees bent and soles flat against the mat. Cross your arms over your chest. Tilt your pelvic bone and flatten your back. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Slowly lift your head and shoulders toward the ceiling. Hold this position for four seconds. Slowly return to the original position and relax for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 times.

Leg Lifting

Core exercises that work on your lower abdominal muscles can be done with a herniated disc, according to Ron Miller. Lie on your back on an exercise mat or floor with your legs fully extended. Tighten your abdominal muscles, and slowly raise your right leg 10 inches from the floor, toward the ceiling. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Slowly return to the original position. Relax for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 times. Do the exercise again with your left leg.

Water Walking

Many people suffering from osteoarthritis, herniated discs or degenerative disc disease may find exercising on land too inhibiting or painful. Exercising in water places minimal stress upon the spinal column and can be a fun and effective way to strengthen your core muscles, according to Spine-Health. Water also supplies a natural resistance 12-times stronger than air, according to the Arthritis Foundation. The resistance naturally strengthens muscles while lowering the risk of injury.

Get into waist-deep water. Walk across the pool's width. Rest for 20 seconds. Walk back to your starting point. For variety, walk in a large circle or sideways. As you become stronger, walk in deeper water to increase your intensity level.

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