What's up, guys? Today I want to show you what to do for that herniated disc. The bulging disc in your low back that I think – probably 99% of the world has been diagnosed with. I'm going to show you how to fix it without ever having to go under the knife, and I've actually got Jessie here because Jessie walked into my office one day at 22, I think 22 years old and he said “I can't believe it. I had an MRI. I've got a bulging disc in my low back and I need to have surgery.” I said, “Dude, you don’t need to have surgery.” Because what I'm going to show you here today is going to do exactly what I showed Jessie, and it's going to help you get rid of this things once, and for all.
So what are we talking about, first of all, with a bulging disc? When we look at a bulging disc there are three different terms that people use. There's ‘herniated disc', ‘bulging disc', and then a ‘ruptured disc'. A ruptured disc is a different scenario. A ruptured disc is when this disc here, that's in between your vertebra basically explodes. It's not fixable without surgery. But that's a very small percentage, and that usually happens in a very traumatic incident.
What we're talking about more often is this. This is a bulging disc. A herniated disc. The disc starts to protrude out the back. This is what this red area is. A lot of times you can be diagnosed with a bulging disc because an MRI tells you that you have a bulging disc, but you don’t have any symptoms. The symptoms might either not be present, or come and go based on whether or not that disc is actually touching the nerve. If it's not touching the nerve, or making contact – in this case, it's not – you wouldn't have any problems with that.
If the nerve touches that disc, though you start to feel the pain, and the tingling, and the sensation down that distribution of the nerve root. So it could be in the front of your thigh if it's an L4 or L5. It could be more in the back of your leg if it's more of an L5-S1. So it depends on what level, and what nerve you're touching. Now, here's the thing you don’t want to do – and what I told Jessie not to do because he was like “Dude, I've just been doing these stretches, and I think that's what I'm going to have to do to start off.” I said “No.
Don’t do back stretches if you have a lumbar disc.” If you start doing the things that Jessie is doing right here, you're going to make the condition worse. A lot of people will prescribe these for you, and that's not what you want to do because flexing the spine, bending it, pulling one leg to the chest, pulling both legs to the chest; that's flexing the spine, and that makes the disc protrude even more.
So why do people tell you to do it? Because, if you look here at the spine, the muscles the run up and down, these basically get tight from the spasm of trying to protect against the disc. So you might stretch and feel a temporary relief, but you're not doing anything to fix the long-term cause, which is the disc underneath, but you are actually making it worse.
So instead, what you want to do is the same two, or three step plan that I gave Jessie. And it starts right here at the bar. The first thing, if you're going to fix this disc because you're going to want to extend, and not flex. But before you do that you've got to fix a couple of things. You'll want to decompress your spine. I know people use inversion tables and all that. If you don’t have access to one you really don’t need one. All you need is a pull-up bar. So, as I have Jessie, the first thing I tell him to do is grab the bar. Then just don’t hang with your feet off the floor, like he's doing here. Put your toes down if you can.
If this is too high because you're too short you can always set up a bar and a squat rack at a high that you can still touch your feet to the ground. But the touching of the feet to the ground is really important because it allows you to decompress, and drop your pelvis. So as I reach up here, I've got a hold, but if I'm holding up here, I'm actually restricting. I'm using muscles and my hip flexors to hold me up. But as soon as I let my toes touch, now I feel like I can kind of release.
What I've done here is, I've dropped my pelvis, and I'm obviously keeping my spine elongated so I have some space here in the spine. We want to try and create, at least, a little bit of room so if that disc is touching one of the nerves we can let it off. The next thing we have to do is, we either go to step three or if you're doing this – that's called a list – and we need to correct that first because step three won't work unless you've fixed step two. So are you doing this? Are you leaning away from the pain? Meaning; if the pain is going down your left leg are you leaning over here – my left leg – are you leaning over here, in this direction, away from the pain? You can easily see that in the mirror.
Have somebody tell you if you are. If you are, then let's go over to the wall and fix that first. Okay, so to fix that list, remember, if you're doing this because you're trying to get away from the pain, then we've got to fix it here, against the wall. So what you do is, you'll use the wall to your advantage. If I'm leaning this way I get myself over here into the wall, and I put my feet further away from the wall. From here. So now I can take my hand on the outside, and I can start to push in this direction, toward the wall. What I'm trying to do is get my hips and my shoulders to be level again.
What that's actually doing is helping to centralize that disc because we don’t want to start trying to go into extension in step three if we haven't centralized the disc. Right now it's over here, and I'm trying to lean away from it. So if we could do this without pain, then we're in a good position. You do this about 10 times. 10, or 12 times. If you find that you're running out of the room, and it feels even better the further you go, you can always take a medicine ball, or a pillow, or a sweatshirt, or something, and you lean into it this way. So I've got my lean here, and my feet are over here, but now you can see I've actually gotten more range of motion that I could drive my hips through.
So it's an overcorrection. A lot of times the overcorrections are necessary. So now, we've done the decompression, we've recentralized – if the list is necessary. If you're standing nice, and tall you don’t necessarily need that, and you go right to step three, which is going to be down here on the floor. All right, guys. So we're almost there. This is the last step and what you do is, you want to get yourself down on the ground, and we're going to extend. We've fixed the list, we've decompressed, and we're in a good spot to actually do this thing, and do it once, and for all.
So you're going to take your hands, put them flat down, under your shoulders, but don’t get lazy about what's happening below the waist because of that matters, too. Put your feet together, contract your glutes together, get nice, and tight from below, take your hands here, and you're going to start to press up. You press up only as far as you can go because you can overextend. If I start to lift my hips off the ground here, I'm not extending anymore at my low back. I'm just pushing up with my hips, and that's what we don’t want. So you only go so far as your hips will stay in contact with the ground, and that's it.
You hang out here for about 15, or 20 seconds. Then you lower yourself back down. Re-contract. You can see Jessie doing the same thing here. As he's pushing up he's trying to make sure everything stays in contact with the ground. That was my one, main instruction for him, and to go for a little bit more extension each time he did it. He would find that each rep he'd get a little bit higher, and a little bit higher. If you can't – let's say you're in a really bad spot, and it's really hurting you. You can actually just get yourself in this position, right here, which is enough extension as it is, and you can watch TV for about 10 minutes, or so if you can tolerate it.
Just to try to get more of that extension in place, and start to recapture that disc. The good thing is, guys, that disc – 98% of the time – will be able to be recentralized, and recapture, and once it does, and it gets off that nerve root, you're not going to have the problems. You're going to go back to lifting, and doing the right things inside the gym without being derailed by your disc pain. So now, the last thing you can do if you had to is, during the day you might not be able to lie on the ground.
So you could do this standing. What you want to do here is just hook your hands – I talked about it in a previous video, these two bumps right here on your pelvis. You just want to get one hand on top on the side, and one hand on top on the other side, hook them, and just push forward with the palms of your hands, and then lean back. Same thing though. If you have to decompress first, you decompress. If you have to do the list thing against the wall, you do the list. But then you just lean back and you're creating extension this way – which is kind of a portable way to do it because you can do that anywhere.
Guys, disc problems are very common problems. Like I've said, if almost all of us were MRI'd, we'd have some sort of a disc problem. But that doesn't mean it's a problem for you. If it is symptomatic, then there are ways to fix it. You don’t need to rush yourself into surgery. Jessie's now been a year and a half, or two years since he's had any pain at all. He's been deadlifting, he's been squatting, he's been doing a lot of things to help keep it nice, and strong.
We'll cover that in a future video, too. In the meantime, I wanted to make sure I got you the way to fix it so you could get on your way and start feeling a lot better. Guys, all of our programs here aren't just programs for working out. As a physical therapist, I care about what happens to you. Not just in the gym, but around the gym, because it's going to matter, ultimately, to how you perform in the gym. If you're looking for our programs where we put the science back in strength, head to ATHLEANX.com and get our programs.