A spine doctor has bad news for those with a herniated disc who spend lots of time lying around, even if they do therapy exercises.
So you have a herniated disc and it hurts like mad. You do therapy or rehab exercises and do other things for pain management such as taking medications and using heat.
However, the recovery or rehab process will be hampered if you lead a sedentary life, even if you use the pain as an excuse to spend a lot of time in bed or in your favorite reclining chair.
“Yes,” says Dr. Michael Perry, MD, member of the North American Spine Society and American College of Sports Medicine.
“Studies show that bed rest is actually detrimental to you as far as recuperation from a back injury. I don’t recommend bed rest in any form for someone with a problem in their back.”
And you can bet on it, “sitting” way back in a recliner chair and watching TV counts as bed rest.
Dr. Perry continues, “Being very active, with little down time, is important. Don’t take specific hours of the day to lie down for back pain because inactivity is not good for the spine.
You need to be mobile. If you have neck or back pain, you should incorporate low-impact exercises such as walking, yoga and Pilates into your daily routine to help strengthen your core muscles.”
As a former certified personal trainer for a large health club, I never tire of telling people that HOLDING ONTO a treadmill while walking can potentially cause repetitive stress injuries in various joints, as this throws the body’s natural gait, spinal alignment and posture off-whack. Read more about treadmill incline walking and back pain.
It may seem counterintuitive not to take to sleeping off pain from a herniated disc, but all that sleeping or excessive lounging around will do is numb your awareness of the pain, or put your body in a position that helps conceal some of the pain.
But it does nothing for healing, zero for recovery. Get up and move! The human spine was designed for lots of movement, not inertia.
Dr. Perry is chief medical director and co-founder of USA Spine Care & Orthopedics, and is frequently sought out for his minimally invasive spine surgery expertise.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.