How to Prevent a Herniated Disc – Follow These Steps

One of the most unpleasant injuries caused by aging is a herniated disc. This is what happens when a disc in your spinal cord weakens or ruptures, causing the cartilage to release and stimulate the nerves surrounding the damaged disc.

Herniations can cause severe pain, weakness, numbness, and complications with your extremities. They are extremely difficult to manage and will leave you debilitated. Most herniated discs don’t have a direct cause and typically happen as a result of normal aging and gradual weakening of the body. However, you can use this information to help prevent one from happening to you.

By strengthening your body and keeping your spine in the best shape possible, the possibility of a herniated disc diminishes. We’ll explain how you can do this below.

How to Prevent a Herniated Disc - Follow These Steps

Targeted Stretching and Exercise

Arguably the best strategy is to use targeted stretching and exercise. While you cannot strengthen your spine, you can make the surrounding muscles stronger. These muscles support your spine, which helps keep it in shape and prevents deterioration.

To do this, you can perform stretches and workouts that strengthen the supporting muscles of your spine. In particular, you should focus on your core/abdominals, lower back, and pelvic floor muscles. Try to spend at least three times each week performing stretches and exercises for each muscle group. It may not feel like you’re making progress, but you are.

Frequent Physical Activity

You should also remember to get frequent physical activity throughout the day. While performing specific stretches and exercises is a good start, it isn’t enough to keep you active. Regular physical activity is important for preventing weight gain and several health challenges. Unfortunately, you may live a fairly sedentary lifestyle. If you work at a computer in an office or remotely, then you’ll spend half or longer of your waking day sitting.

Humans aren’t meant to stay still for most of their life. You need to be getting up and about often to get your blood pumping throughout your body. It will also help refresh your brain, giving it a break from what you were focusing on. When you’re sedentary, the discs in your spine will weaken. Staying active will keep them fresh and help keep your body weight healthy, which reduces the strain placed on your spine. Try to get up and walk around every hour or two. Make sure that you’re cumulatively moving around an hour or so each day to stay healthy.

Proper Lifting Techniques

Another important concept is to always use proper lifting techniques. Whether you need to lift items for work, weights at the gym, or while doing housework, you must always watch how you’re lifting. If you lift incorrectly, you can make an error that causes an abrupt rupture of a disc. In particular, lifting with your back or making jerky movements can initiate a disc rupture. Proper lifting is particularly significant for preventing a sudden herniated disc. Most happen gradually, but they can also occur rapidly if prompted by an explosive force like weight applied to the wrong area. Considering this, never take any amount of weight for granted. Always lift with your legs and get a friend or use lifting equipment for anything heavy.

Good Posture

Finally, you should maintain good posture as much as possible. Thinking about how a disc herniation happens, it’s easy to see how posture can affect this. The structure of your spine includes several connected bones and discs. These are layered, meaning that there is a disc between each bone. Connected, this forms a long chain that makes up your spine. It is a closed chain, meaning that your bones and discs are kept firmly within the chain. When a disc herniation occurs, one of the discs has torn or ruptured, effectively breaking the chain. It then pushes cartilage outward, which causes severe pain as it interacts with nerves in your spine.

Now think about what bad posture looks like. You may strive for good posture, but slouch as the day goes on. Picture what you sit like when you’re slouching. In a slouched position, you are creating a curve in your lower spine. This mimics the pressure of a disc herniation, but to a much smaller degree. Slouching won’t cause a rapid disc herniation, but it can cause a gradual herniation. This is because slouching weakens your lower back muscles and places unnecessary pressure on your spine. Remember this and try to keep your posture as straight as possible.

Closing Thoughts

Herniated discs are extremely painful and hard to handle. They are typically caused by aging, which weakens your spine and surrounding muscles. They can also happen as a result of a sudden injury. Both gradual and rapid disc herniations can be prevented with effort. A few tips for this include targeted stretching and exercise, frequent physical activity, using proper lifting techniques, and maintaining good posture. If you’ve never experienced a herniated disc, then you certainly don’t want to! Put your health first and consider if your behavior is contributing toward an eventual injury.