T Nation

Degenerative Disc Disease

Howdy folks:

My father has 4 degenerative discs in the lower lumbar region (L1, 2, 4 and 5) and has been rather immobile for the last few weeks.

I’ve read on Back.com that this condition is a normal result of age, wear and tear, and of dehydration of the discs.

He’s never been into doing deadlifts or any specific lower back type exercises.

My Question is this:

Would doing those exercises help prevent this sort of thing from happening?


Is it advisable to start doing them at this point?

Note: he IS seeing a doctor and starts physio next week

I just wanted the weight-lifting angle.

[quote]Dr_Feelgood wrote:
Would doing those exercises help prevent this sort of thing from happening?[/quote]

No. Heavy lifting actually increases the risk of back injury and pain and is certainly contra-indicated during recovery from injury.

Most definitely NO!!! Avoid loaded spinal flexion when the lumbar spine is injured.

It’s commonly been thought that back problems are caused by weak muscles, so therapy focused on strengthening exercises. But compelling research has shown that instead the problem is lack of stability and endurance in the muscles that support the spine. Many, many muscles have to work together in just the right way to support the spine, especially under load.

One of the best things your dad can do, as soon as he can, is to walk briskly. I would go 20-30 minute walks throughout the day and especially right after waking up. Rest and ice the area after each walk. Secondly, he could do stabilizing exercises such as the plank and side planks, trying to gradually increase the time but not the loading. If he is very weak or severely injured, he may have to start leaning against a wall rather than the floor, to reduce the loading.

I personally have little confidence in the physio. Standard exercise prescriptions can make many back problems worse. If you can find one who is knowledgeable about the spine-stabilization research, s/he may be helpful.

Hope your dad makes a speedy recovery.

I agree

I have a few clients with disc herniation and degeneration. THe best thing to do is to increase the strength of the surrounding muscles (t.v.a, erector spinae, pelvic floor and internal obliques). First and foremost he should be assessed for any definciencies and posture, kinetic chain, and limitations. Check out Neanderthal No More and Out of Kilter for some really good assessment tips.
I would rather have him on a recumbent bike or eliptical trainer than brisk walking.
Good Luck