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Jogging and Bulging Disc


3 weeks ago I aggravated a bulging disc doing rack pulls. For 2 weeks certain movements involving flexion of the spine caused sharp pain. I stopped going to the gym and only did bird dogs, side bridges and curl-ups for back rehab. For about 1 week I have been more or less pain free.

Before this incident I had promised a colleague to participate in a running event involving running 5.6 km (3.5 miles) which will take place in 2 weeks.

Now, I am bit unsure what to do. I am considering doing gradually longer runs in the next days (1,2,.. kms) and stop, if I get any back pain. However, most internet pages on bulging discs advice against jogging.

So I would be happy about any input from others with bulging discs on their experience with jogging (any reinjuires,...).

P.S.: Yeah, I know this is a bit off-topic in a bodybuilding forum. But I figure there are a lot of people with bulging discs around here.


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thank you very much for your reply! It is not that I want to do jogging regularly after this event in 2 weeks. I mainly agreed to take part in it as motivation to cut up for summer.

I think my mechanics for jogging are ok. At least I did not have any problems before this incident 3 weeks ago.

APT, Hip flexors: I think I do not have an APT or tight hip flexors (if I did the Thomas test correctly).

ITB: Great tip. I often have pain on the outside of my left leg since doing a lot of front squats last year but was not able to find the cause. This may be it.


I want to highlight this point. My L5-S1 herniation felt tremendously better by running on bark dust trails. Same applies to those with shin splints. Pavement is completely awful for running.

That being said, any orthopod (and BBB, who is knows more than most of them anyway) will tell you running is a no-no for a lumbar herniation.


I know and that's why I posted in this forum to get a different opinion from more sports oriented people. Also, the bulging disc incident seems to be only minor (no sciatica, only pain during flexion, no pain while sitting even for long periods).

However, I will also be VERY careful and stop immediately as soon as I feel the slightest pain while jogging or some time afterwards.


As a cautionary tale for others in a similar situation. I did a pretty pain free test run for 5.6km. However, in the following night, my back really acted up and I was nearly back at square one.

I have since gotten X-rays showing reduced disc height in the lumbar region. So my back may be in worse shape than I had thought.


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I have a bulging and a herniated disc. Jogging on dirt trails feels OK, jogging on pavement kills it and gives me pain for a few days. Just an observation.


I had already bought Stuart McGill's "ultimate low back fitness" book before the current incident. But I did not have time to thoroughly read and implement it. Could I have prevented the current injury? I guess not. But I will give the book another read.

Currently, my plan for preventing further herniations is to ditch deadlifts/rack pulls for good. I have already dumped back squats and I think I will replace front squats with hip belt squats just to be on the safe side.

I think I will also buy McGill's first book "low back disorders", the UBF companion DVD, an embraceair lumbar support and an ab wheel.

Currently, I would be happy, if I could get my back just to tolerate "normal" sport activities. I would hate to give up snowboarding.


If you're getting pain in flexion, have you tried a prone back extension? See if this movement (or some other movement) can centralize your pain symptoms (McKenzie therapy). The basic premise is to identify a movement that centralizes your pain (or localizes it, however you best understand it), then train that movement (low level stretches, held for 20-30 seconds).

Also, as suggested above, address all other muscles in the hip region. These muscles often react in a preventative manner to protect the spine by tightening up, and stiffening the lumbopelvic region. Not a good thing if you're going to go running with the middle part all messed up.

The premise of McGill's rehab is to groove appropriate motion patterns in the low back while sparing the back from any excessive loading. What he would probably suggest is to look at what is causing your pain, evalute your posture, teach you how to walk properly (stride length, posture, arm swing), and progress you through an exercise regime BEFORE doing anything that would dynamically load the back (like running).


During the time when I got pain from simply tying my shoes I tried McKenzie extensions but they did not feel right and I was afraid to mess up my back even more. Right now ordinary activities including sitting do no longer cause any pain. Only in order to sleep uninterrupted I have to elevate my legs and use a lumbar support.

My recent incidents were always tied to the deadlift resp. the last one to rack pulls. So I have already decided to say goodbye to any form of DLs. Even with pull-throughs and leg-curls as substitutes this will hamper my spinal erector and hamstring development. But not being able to train productively for months because of back pain is worse.

Also, I have high hopes that the EmbraceAir lumbar support will improve my back health because I sit in a chair nearly all day.

I am curious whether the doc I will be seeing at the end of this week to discuss my X-rays can help me in any way.


Just because it didn't feel "right" doesn't mean it won't work/help.

I suggest you see whether a prone extension can centralize your pain symptoms. You just have to hold the position for a period of time (30seconds), not necessarily do reps.

Something to try is sit in a chair, and rapid pull yourself down into it. Try it in normal seated posture, and with a partially flexed posture. If the former causes pain, look up decompression exercises, if its the latter look to combined decompression with extension work.


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The version of the McKenzie exercise that McGill recommends is not to hold the full range, simply to move into that position to alleviate the discomfort and to provide a minimal stretch. For example, a common recommendation is to place both fists beneath the chin and hold that prone extension position to alleviate discomfort. I agree with your comment about going to a full ROM for a stretch, but most therapists who do McKenzie clinically do not go full ROM with the centralization work, just to the point where symptoms diminish.


That's true but comments like the following on McKenzie books on Amazon did not encourage me to go on:

"I have had minor sciatica and lower back pain for years. I wanted to see what could be done to improve my condition. I read the book and began the exercises cautiously less than a week ago (10 Jan 2009). And when I say cautious, I mean just that; 4 back arches without hands and 1 with hands.

Within 5 minutes of the first exercises, I was experiencing excruciating leg cramps, lower back pain and numbness. On 16 January, after cortisone IM injections, muscle relaxants and codeine, I ended up having emergency back surgery for a bone fragment that had been expelled and was pressing against my S1 nerve.

When I explained this to the neurosurgeon, he replied this was exactly why he thought all such books should be banned. It is simply not safe to treat a serious medical condition without input from an expert who has familiarity with your unique condition."

Well, right now a prone extension does not cause any pain at all.

I do not quite understand how I can sit in a a chair and rapidly pull myself down into it. Do you mean I should slump into a chair? If that's the case, why would I want to do this with a flexed spine?

You mentioned Stuart McGill recommending McKenzie exercises. Do you have a reference for this?


If you sit on a chair and put your hands beneath it, then you can hold onto the chair and pull yourself down into it.

Stu McGill shows how he uses the McKenzie work in his recent book and accompanying DVD.

The case you highlighted above is extreme, to say the least, and probably would have happened soon enough anyway. The idea is not just to go out and do back extensions, its to find out whether a particular movement (such as back extensions) centralizes your pain symptoms. If it doesn't, then don't worry about even considering it.

So if pain centralization isn't required for you, just move through the steps of grooving the appropriate movement patterns, sparing the back from loading, and strengthening your neutral posture.

I tend to find that using a stationary lunge, aka split squat, is best for teaching someone with back problems about good spine posture. This also allows you to see what hip muscles may need attention by whether you're being pulled into flexion, or your laterally imbalanced owing to issues with the ITB, glut med etc.


Hm, no pain with this movement. But I retested the extension and I get a slight pain when I hyperextend to a level where I am pushing with my arms fully extended.

I am waiting for the DVD to arrive and I have to reread ultimate back fitness.

Can you recommed a book on the McKenzie method? To be honest, by only reading the stuff you find on the internet it is difficult to understand the rationale behind the McKenzie method.

Since my hip belt has not arrived yet, bodyweight bulgarian split squats have been my only leg exercise. Next time in the gym I will give the normal split squat a try.


You could buy Robin McKenzie's book from the early 80's, but this type of treatment is such a small part of appropriate low back rehab I wouldn't bother.

Try to follow the general theme put forward by all above, get everything in the hips in shape and slowly look to introduce basic lifting movements. With running, try a 5 minute block to start with, then next time go to 10 minutes. Only increase the duration if you're pain free.

Good luck