One of the more common injuries that can result from weight lifting at the gym is a herniated disc. A herniated disc, also referred to as a slipped, bulging, or ruptured disc is a condition in which the disc slips out of its outer covering, pushing against spinal nerves. Herniated discs can cause extreme discomfort and pain, inflammation, tingling, numbness, or weakness. Causes of a herniated disc include, but are not limited to; injury, poor posture and body mechanics, or age-related degeneration of the disc. Exercises that have a higher chance of causing or further damaging a herniated disc include squats, which can cause strain and pressure to the lumbar region while leaning forward; shoulder presses, which can cause strain and pressure from back extension (arching the back); and low back extensions, which can place extremely high levels of stress on your back.
To lessen your chances of this happening to you try these tips:
1. Work on your flexibility throughout your back by doing a modified cobra. Lie on your stomach with your legs extended and your arms bent with your hands at the sides of your chest with your palms on the floor. Begin the exercise by pressing your hands and forearms down, lifting your head and upper body up off of the floor. For a visual click here.
2. Strengthen the muscles of your lower back by doing bridge exercises. Lie on your back with your knees bent at 45 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms at your sides placing your palms on the floor.
Begin the exercise by pressing your heels down to the floor, lifting your hips up four to six inches off of the floor. Contract your abdomen, keeping your back straight. Squeeze your buttocks to hold your body up for five to ten seconds. Eventually, work up to 30 seconds.
3. Strengthen the muscles of the core by doing plank exercises or modified planks to suit your ability. Lie on your stomach. Prop up onto your elbows and toes. Keep your back level. Hold for 5 – 10 – 15 – 20 – 30 – 45 seconds (time is based on your current ability, you can slowly build up). Repeat 3 – 5 times
4. When weight-training, do not excessively load the spine by using heavy weights overhead or across your shoulders. Use proper body mechanics when exercising by performing your exercises in front of a mirror to ensure that you are using the proper form.
Following these simple tips can reduce the likelihood of suffering from a herniated disc. If you think you already have one, please seek medical attention so that you can properly address the problem and prevent further injury. Not sure how to tackle those looming New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, get in shape and reach your highest physical potential? Our friends right here at Virginia Therapy & Fitness Center (VTFC) can get you on track.