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About Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease, also known as spondylosis, is a byproduct of aging. Not everyone will experience debilitating pain from spinal disc degeneration, but the process does affect everyone to a degree. Every action we take affects the spine in some way. Exercise won’t reverse the damage in your spine, but it can relieve some of the painful symptoms caused by DDD and may also slow the progression of degeneration.
The Best Exercises for Degenerative Disc Disease
Living with the effects of degenerative disc disease isn’t always easy. Pain and discomfort can give way to mobility issues and lower your quality of life. The good news? These exercises can help improve your flexibility and muscle strength to better support your spine.
Often, we see yoga prescribed as the miracle drug of exercises with exaggerated claims being made about its effectiveness. While yoga won’t give you a new back, it can greatly improve your symptoms by increasing your flexibility, improving core strength to better support the spine and loosening up tension caused by the patterns of daily living. Target your hamstrings with yoga poses like a seated forward bend, standing forward bend and the warrior III pose. Relieving tightness in the hamstrings helps improve tension in the lower back. Bridge pose supports flexibility and strength in the hips which also helps in supporting the lower back. Bridge pose can also help strengthen the psoas muscles in the lower back.
Psoas Muscle Stretches
Targeting the psoas muscles can relieve some back pain symptoms related to DDD. Weak muscles in the low back put strain on the spine, which can lead to fatigue and pain. Some yoga poses are beneficial at targeting the psoas muscles in the back, like bridge pose. For this next stretch, you’ll need a belt or yoga strap. One easy way to target these muscles is by laying down on your back and extending your legs up, one at a time. Put the strap around the sole of your foot and gently pull to feel a stretch in your hamstring and lower back. Hold the stretch for as long as it’s comfortable and switch sides. You can also target the psoas with lunges like the warrior I yoga pose. Lunges also lengthen and stretch the hamstrings and relieve tension in the lower back.
If you’re dealing with moderate pain and are relatively inflexible, water aerobics may be the best place to start. In the water, you’re not putting stress on your joints. Walking in the water and other aerobic exercises will help provide just enough tension for a gentle workout while avoiding the stress of more strenuous traditional exercises.
Stationary bikes with back rests are excellent lower body workouts for people with back pain. You can strengthen your legs and improve your stamina without putting added pressure on your spine.
One of the worst things for back pain is immobility. Walking is a gentle way to get in some heart-healthy exercise while also providing some relief to a stiff back. If you’re unsteady in your stride, consider a cane, walking stick, or trekking pole for support.
Degenerative disc disease in its advanced stages may cause chronic pain in the spine due to serious degeneration in the discs. If your pain doesn’t respond to exercise and conservative treatments, it may be time to consult an orthopedist about your options. At Back Pain Centers of America (BPC), we’re committed to helping you find the best care available for your condition. Call us today at 1.844.201.1308 so we can match you with a qualified board-certified specialist who can provide the care you deserve.