Exercises for a Bulging Disc in the Lumbar Region

Updated April 17, 2017

Back pain affects eight out of 10 people at some point in their lives, according to the Mayfield Clinic, a neurosurgical clinic. A common form of back pain is a bulging disc in the lumbar (lower back) region. Bulging discs happen when the soft cushions (the discs) between your vertebrae are weakened and the nucleus begins to push outward. Bulging discs can occur when doing strenuous activity and are more common as we age. The good news is that treatment generally consists of physiotherapy and core strengthening treatments.


Exercises for a bulging disc in the lumbar region should focus on strengthening the surrounding muscles and should be performed five times a day. They should not be performed if they cause any pain or increase the symptoms in any way.

Prone Lying. Lie on your tomach on a flat surface and stay like this for 10 to 20 minutes.

Elbow Prop. While lying on your stomach, slowly bring your elbows up and prop them under you.

Lumbar Extension in Lying. While lying on your front, put your hands in a push-up position and slowly arch your back while straightening your arms. Stretch as far as you can without causing pain and return to lying down. Repeat 10 times.

Core Body Strengthening

Exercise balls are good for strengthening the core muscles of the body, helping to support the spine, starting with the lower back. These exercises target the abdomen, the chest and the back muscles.

The Front Walkout. Place your chest on the exercise ball and walk forward on your hands as far as you can, all the while rolling the exercise ball toward your feet. Keep the stomach and core muscles tight in order to keep a flat lower back. Repeat three to five times.

The Back Walkout. Sit on the exercise ball and walk your feet as far out as possible, rolling the exercise ball from the butt toward the neck, all the while keeping the lower back flat by tightening the stomach and core muscles. Walk feet back toward the ball until you're back in a sitting position. Repeat three to five times.

The Reverse Crunch. Place your chest on the ball, walking forward on your hands until the ball is at the kneecaps. Keep the lower back flat and pull the ball up toward your arms by bending the hips and knees. Then straighten, pushing the ball back. Repeat five times


If a bulging disc in the lumbar region does not go away on its own, physiotherapy is often the first treatment prescribed to patients. A physical therapist will instruct the patient on proper techniques for lifting, walking and posture, as well as focus on strengthening the lower back, leg and stomach and core muscles. Stretching exercises will also be prescribed, in order to increase flexibility of your spine and legs.

Other Treatments

If resting and lifting restrictions, physiotherapy or lumbar strengthening exercises do not work and the bulging disc does not resolve in six to twelve weeks, doctors may recommend more aggressive treatments. These include heat and ice therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, pain medication, cortisone injections and sometimes back surgery.


When recovering from a bulging disc in the lower back, it is important to keep in mind that prevention of a reoccurrence is key. In order to do this, use proper lifting techniques, keep good posture while standing, sitting and sleeping, maintain a healthy weight and body mass, and continue with appropriate exercises for strengthening the muscles surrounding the bulge, as well as the core of your body.

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