Activity Restrictions for a Bulging Disc

A bulging disc, also called a ruptured or herniated disc, occurs during spinal strain, forcing the disc against one or several spinal cord nerves and causing lower back pain. Lifestyle, age and obesity all increase the probability of having a bulging disc, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Complete recovery usually requires four weeks. Bed rest isn't necessary for the entire month, but healing does require patience and certain activity restrictions.

Awkward Stretching

Avoid any painful stretching or reaching. Something as simple as reaching for a shoe or turning around in the driver's seat to unlock the back car door can unnecessarily strain your lower back and cause further inflammation. As with any injury, your disc is easily aggravated in the early stages of recovery. If you have sufficiently rested for a few days with minimal activity, your doctor might recommend gentle stretching. Touching your toes and gently rotating from side to side is a good start.

Lifting Heavy Items

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Lifting heavy items strains your back and is especially detrimental to healing a herniated disk. Your lower back naturally engages whenever you lift a heavy object. The strain of your back increases with the weight of an object, and heavy lifting can easily cause a healthy disk to bulge, which means you shouldn't lift anything difficult until your doctor approves.


Excessive force or pressure can cause your disc to herniate and bulge. Jumping while playing basketball or other sports exacerbates the pressure already on your spine. Avoid bouncing motions such as running or certain exercise classes. Particularly in the beginning of your recovery, even jumping down the last stair or hopping over a puddle has enough force to re-injure your disc.