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Lumbar Disc Hernia: Load the Spine or Not?


Hi, guys!

I have a herniated disk in my lumbar spine and want to accelerate the healing process. (I also have Degenerative Disc Disease).

I have read that blood flow to spinal discs is minimal, and the way to deliver nutrients to them is to “pump” the discs (allow for compression and then decompression). Is that correct?

Heavy deadlifts are out for me, but I can still swing a (light) kettlebell, without pain.

Or do you think I should avoid spinal compression altogether?

I have read very conflicting opinions on the subject. Some say I need to be loading the spine so it becomes stronger - and some say that loading it will wreck it.

Obviously, I can strengthen my abs and lower back with exercises that don’t load the spine at all. I just wonder if spinal loading in small amounts can be therapeutic.

Thanks in advance!


Well you might be surprised what does and does not load the spine. Walking, for example, it a fantastic way to ‘pump’ the discs and get your blood flow increased. I’d be interested to know what abs and lower back exercises you’re performing. A lot of those do more damage than people realize.

Strengthening the spine in neutral posture is always highly recommended. Exercises like plank, side plank, birddog, etc are great places to start as you work your way back to squats, deadlifts, etc.

Eventually deadlifts, performed correctly, shouldn’t injure your back but actually strengthen it. Does that help?


Thanks for the reply!

I do try to walk for an hour a day.

For abs, I do planks or single-leg planks.

For lower back, I do single-leg back extensions.

Thanks again.


Yea I’m not crazy about back extensions, single or double leg. How about side planks and suitcase carries? What’s working your lateral stability?


Yeah, I am doing side planks.

Thanks for the help!