Herniated disc weight lifting is one of the few athletic activities in which I deviate from my usual thoughts of go ahead and do it, regardless of having a bulging disc. This is certainly on a case by case basis, but in general, I am not an avid fan or advocate of heavy resistance training for back pain sufferers. This is not due to the spine’s inability to handle the load, but instead due to the considerable mental and emotional over-cautions suffered by weight lifters of all sizes and abilities.
In this article, we will examine how weight training can cause or exacerbate a disc prolapse condition. We will also detail how to prevent injury when performing resistance training and how to cope with the emotional consequences of a positive disc diagnosis.
Weight Lifting and Herniated Discs
Resistance training, within reason, is very good for your body. Skeletal loading builds healthy bones, helps prevent osteoporosis and makes for a strong and attractive physique. However, injury is virtually inherent to weight lifting, unlike many other activities, making it a risky sport for back pain sufferers.
Lifting weights beyond one’s ability is a sure fire way to damage the body. Minor damage can help muscles to grow larger and stronger, but pushing too far can lead to disaster.
If you have a herniated disc (and virtually, who doesn’t), it is wise to be prudent when lifting to avoid changing the spinal anatomy for the worse and possibly enacting severe flare-ups of symptoms.
Herniated Disc Weight Lifting Injuries
Most resistance-based injuries are done to the soft tissues, like muscles, ligaments and tendons. Occasionally, a spinal disc can be injured and sudden traumatic herniations can indeed be very painful, although the symptoms are not likely to last for more than 2 to 8 weeks.
Chronic pain blamed on herniated discs is often diagnosed, but the idea that a herniation from 20 years ago has been painful all this time is anatomically illogical in the vast majority of people.
Weight lifting does put tremendous stress on the spine during some exercises, so it is wise to choose methods of lifting which will not aggravate preexisting herniations or create new ones. This can be achieved by selecting exercises which do not bear the brunt of the force on the lower back and neck, as well as the sensible choice of actual weight lifted.
Herniated Disc Weight Lifting Experiences
As a trainer for many years, I have learned to develop my own style of exercise which provides solid resistance work without weights. This is just my choice. I do think moderate weights are fine and they can certainly provide considerable benefits to counter the risks.
In my experience, most weight lifting injuries are completely due to personal error and pride. Most lifters push too hard and try to lift beyond their safe range, causing injury. Worse yet, some never learn and repeat this mistake over and over again. In these circumstances, there is no one to blame but themselves and scar tissue formation in the soft tissue may become a real issue.
However, concentrating on herniated discs, my advice is simple. Do not let the disc rule your life or prevent you from taking part in enjoyable activities. If you like to lift, then lift, as long as your doctor says its ok. However, lift smart and sensibly. If you push yourself too far, your spine may just push back, hard. Trust me; you won’t like it.