Are There Weightlifting Restrictions If You Have Bulging Discs? | Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

Are There Weightlifting Restrictions If You Have Bulging Discs?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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  • The most common place along the spine for a disc to slip is the lower part of your backbone.
  • Weight training is very beneficial in aiding in the prevention of bulging discs.
  • If you have a herniated disc and are in severe pain, then you need to rest.
  • Restrictions depend on symptoms, severity, and doctor instructions.

If you have bulging discs, you may have some weight lifting restrictions, although weight training can also bring relief.

Bulging discs, or herniated discs as they are also known, can be painful and can lead to serious consequences.

While bulging discs can occur for several reasons, they can also be avoided with proper care. If you are prone to herniated discs then there are some minor lifestyle changes that can be made to help avoid repeat recurrences.

Signing up for an PRO account can help. Using our workout plan finder, you can incorporate back exercises into your workout plan to reduce the risk of getting bulging discs or to help recover from one. Go PRO now!

What Are Bulging Discs?

To understand what a bulging disk is, imagine cushiony disks sitting between each of your backbones. The disks allow your spine to bend and move. If the disks slip and apply pressure to the nerves, they are considered to be bulging discs, herniated discs, slipped disks, or even ruptured discs.

The most common place along the spine for a disc to slip is the lower part of your backbone. It tends to occur more often as you age because the discs flatten out over the years and lose some of their cushioning capability.

It is possible for the disc to tear through itself and press on the nerves, which can be very painful.

You will know if you have a herniated disc through several symptoms. Pain is common because of the pressure on the nerves, but that pressure on the nerves can also cause numbness. The pain can be in the lower back, but it can also extend through the buttocks and down your leg, a symptom known as sciatica.

It is possible that you can have bulging discs and not know it. If the discs are not pressing on the nerves then you will most likely have no pain or any other symptom. However, if you develop numbness in both of your legs and lose control of your bladder or bowels, it is important to seek medical care immediately. In rare instances, bulging discs and lead to cauda equina syndrome, a rare and serious disease that causes your spinal nerves to become compressed.

Does Weightlifting Cause Bulging Discs?

Weight lifting is a core part of your health regimen because it builds muscle, increases metabolism, burns fat, and strengthens your skeletal muscles. However, if you do not lift weights properly then you can cause serious injury. Here are some causes of back injury:

  • Improper weightlifting can damage a rotary cuff or various joints. You can also injure your back in different ways, including getting bulging discs. If you are more prone to developing herniated discs then you need to be extra careful when lifting weights in order to reduce the risk of reinjuring your backbone.
  •  Age is one factor that weakens discs, but sometimes hereditary conditions can also be at fault.
  • Pregnancy and extreme weight loss can stretch your muscles and cause your discs to become more easily herniated as well.
  • Anytime you increase pressure on your back you risk getting bulging discs. This means if you lift weights improperly your chances of your discs slipping increase dramatically.

Proper posture and proper technique are essential when doing any kind of weight lifting or bodybuilding.

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Can Weightlifting Help Bulging Discs?

If you have a herniated disc and are in severe pain, then you need to tend to it with plenty of rest for the first day or two. You do not want to increase your physical activity level and do further damage or cause more intense pressure on the nerve, which would lead to more pain.

However, too much rest is not good because your muscles will weaken and worsen the problem (of course, it’s imperative that you listen to your doctor If he or she tells you to rest, rest!). Instead, try to maintain light physical activity such as walking and doing gentle stretches. When you are feeling better, increase your activity level and start exercising with a focus on strengthening your back muscles.

During the initial stages, you may find relief from either a heating pad or an ice pack. If you are using an ice pack, do not keep it on your back for more than 15 minutes at a time and wait two to three hours in-between. You can also try warm showers several times a day for 15 minutes at a time.

Weight training is very beneficial in aiding in the prevention of bulging discs. By strengthening your backbone you are better able to keep your discs in place. However, this is only true if you lift weights properly.

Stretching is also crucial in order to warm up your muscles and help strengthen them as well. Stretch before and after every exercise routine, including weight training.

It is essential to understand the right techniques for every exercise you perform. Sign up for a PRO account today to access features like workout builders, workout logs, and personal training!

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