Three Tips for Running with a Bulging Disc

What is a Bulging Disc

A bulging disc is a condition where a spinal disc begins to extend out of its normal boundary in the spinal column. This is usually due to natural degeneration of these discs, which begin to dry out and lose elasticity over time, making them less able to withstand the pressure they’re placed under every day. 

While bulging discs aren’t always painful, they can cause spinal narrowing and nerve compression that leads to local and radiating symptoms. This pain can be severely debilitating, taking you away from the people and activities you love. If bulging disc pain is affecting you, it’s important to stay positive and find ways to stay active. 

Staying Active with a Bulging Disc

If you enjoy running but have been diagnosed with a bulging disc, you may believe that you have to hang up your running shoes until you’ve fully healed. But, did you know that making simple modifications to your running routine can help you stay active during the recovery process?

First and foremost, it’s important to consult with your physician before attempting any exercise with a bulging disc. They will be able to develop an appropriate treatment strategy based on your unique condition, symptoms, and overall health. If your physician gives you the green light to keep running during your recovery, consider following these tips:

  1. Work on flexibility and strength. Elongating and strengthening the muscles that support the spine is key to protecting spinal discs as you run. Incorporate gentle strength training and stretching routines into your exercise regimen to help keep you healthy and strong.
  1. Take walking breaks. Breaking up runs with short intervals of walking will allow you to stay in shape while minimizing the strain placed on your spine and joints.
  1. Reprioritize. You may enjoy pushing yourself to run faster or longer distances, but right now, your top priority should be your recovery. Keep your runs short and take breaks if you feel pain. If your symptoms worsen, stop running.

Don’t be discouraged if your physician doesn’t want you to run as you recover from your bulging disc. There are plenty of gentler exercises you can try that will keep you active and may actually accelerate the healing process. For example, with your physician’s guidance, you can try low-impact activities like yoga, swimming, stationary cycling, or Pilates.

Treatment with BEST Health System

Combining low-impact exercises with conservative treatments helps many patients overcome their bulging disc symptoms and get back on the move. However, some patients may require surgical care to relieve nerve compression or stabilize the spine. In these instances, BEST Health System offers a minimally invasive alternative to traditional open neck or back operations. Our board-certified surgeons perform outpatient procedures that require a less than 1-inch incision. Contact our team to learn more about the benefits of our advanced approach to bulging disc surgery.