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I have lumbar lordosis and I play basketball competitively. Sometimes when I land from a jump I feel like the pressure comes up from my heel up to my spine. Now I chronically feel a very sharp pain in my lower back that comes and goes. Most especially when sitting for long periods.

What exercises are helpful in strengthening my body to prevent herniated discs from happening?

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My father, who has a herniated disc, advised me to try "upside down bicycles," an exercise provided by his doctor. You lay flat on your back, palms down, and move your legs above you in the air like you're riding a bicycle. There's a video explaining it here (though it presents it as a fat loss exercise). –  Alexander Gruber Mar 20 '13 at 22:08
    
Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell is a huge proponent of the reverse hyper-extension. –  Daniel Mar 21 '13 at 0:17
    
@ Rick Ong +1 for a great question. Although this question may not be most appropriate related to fitness, I still think it's good because there are a lot of people actually experiencing what you are going through. With this being said, I still think it's most appropriate to seek a professional help "in-person" for best advice. Good luck! –  DrTrungNguyen Mar 23 '13 at 1:38

2 Answers 2

To prevent disc problems or back problems in general, you will want to do a combination of flexibility, strengthening and posture exercises.

  • A regular flexibility program for your legs, hips and back will help give you the range you need to keep the pelvis and spine balanced as you move, which will reduce strain on your lower back.
  • Strengthening of your abs, back, pelvic, hip and leg muscles will help to create a stable base and provide support for the spine.
  • The right combination of flexibility and stability will give you a neutral posture that minimizes pressure on the discs.

Sometimes when I land from a jump I feel like the pressure comes up from my heel up to my spine.

  • If your leg muscles are not strong enough and flexible enough to absorb the shock as you land, the force is transmitted up thru your legs to the spine. Strengthening your abs, glutes, quads, and calf muscles will help cushion your landing. However, how you go about strengthening these muscles could help or hurt your back. Bird dog, planks etc. are generally good exercises to support your spine, but you should see a therapist first to make sure that they are appropriate for your condition.

    Having a "lumbar lordosis" is not a problem. The spinal curves actually allow for more shock absorbing than a straight spine would. Having an excessive lordosis or one that is stiff is a problem. Finding the cause - tight muscles, weak muscles or restricted joints will determine how you can correct your lordosis (if possible).

Now I chronically feel a very sharp pain in my lower back that comes and goes. Most especially when sitting for long periods.

  • Prolonged sitting, especially if you slump, increases disc pressure. Getting up frequently and making sure that you have good back support can help. This q/a: I have extremely bad posture, what can I do? will give you some ideas for improving your sitting posture.

    Since you are already having symptoms, as @GetFitChimp suggests, find a good physical therapist who will evaluate your imbalances and give you specific exercises to address your specific problems.

    The sooner you get appropriate help the better. This study concludes:

    There was a lower risk of subsequent medical service usage among patients who received PT early after an episode of acute low back pain relative to those who received PT at later times.

Hope that helps. Good luck.

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+ 1 for many great tips. –  DrTrungNguyen Mar 23 '13 at 1:33

Rick Ong,

I'm not trying to tell you not to take advice from the internet, but I think it's a great idea for you to go see a PT (physical therapist). Try to find a PT with either has an OCS (Orthopedic Certified Specialist), a SCS (Sports Certified Specialist) or with McKenzie Certified. Not that the other PTs won't be able to help you. It's just that these PTs (board certified) are a lot more well-rounded when it comes to hands on and manual or mechanical diagnosis and treatment for lower back pain, orthopedic and sports related injuries.

I know this may take some time (paper work, insurance, PT referral, etc.) and money, but if you really want some great tips not only to take care of this problem that you are facing, but also preventing it from coming back again, then I strongly recommend you to go see a PT.

Herniated discs can be towards anterior (front), posterior (back) or posterior lateral (back and to the side - most common). This is why a PT will be able to perform some special tests during an evaluation to find out what exercises and treatment plan is best for your symptoms and problems.

Give it a try. Good luck!

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