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5 Best Exercises for Degenerative Disc Disease for the Lumbar Spine

backpain physicaltherapy Feb 03, 2021

What Is Arthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage which acts as a protective layer and cushion at the ends of the bones can wear down over time. 

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, but the most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine. Today we will be talking about degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis of the lumbar spine and what you can do to prevent and what you can do to live a strong and confident life even with arthritis. 

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is specifically referring to the spine. One thing we want you to be informed about is degenerative disc disease isn't actually a disease, but rather a condition in which a damaged disc can potentially cause pain. To get a better picture, let’s talk about the basic anatomy of the spine. The spine includes 33 individual vertebrae. 7 Cervical (neck), 12 Thoracic (middle back) and 5 Lumbar (low back).  The individual bones of the spine (vertebrae) have specific functions.  For example the vertebral body is for load-bearing, the vertebral arch is to protect the spinal cord, and transverse processes on the sides are for ligament attachments.  In between each vertebra is a disc. These discs work as shock absorbers and allow slight movement of the vertebrae to maintain mobility of the spine. The discs have a firm, tough outer layer, the annulus fibrosus and a soft, jellylike core, the nucleus pulposus. Over time naturally there can have changes depending on many factors, some people develop symptoms and some do not. Current evidence states that nearly everyone in their 30’s and 40’s show signs of disc wear, but not everyone will have symptoms of degenerative disc disease or symptoms at all.  

Several factors that can contribute to degenerative disc disease, aside from age include:

Hydration. Did you know the intervertebral discs are made up of about 80% of water?  If we’re chronically dehydrated and improperly nourishing our bodies these areas can be affected.  Follow the link to learn more about keeping yourself hydrated.

Daily activities and sports - think more repetitive movements or activities.  The thing with this is to be smart about recovery and strengthening and stabilizing the right areas of your body.

Injuries -  which can cause swelling, soreness and instability or result in low back pain. 

What Can I Do?

At Inside Out Strength and Performance we work with hundreds of patients, active adults and athletes and we commonly see people with some form of OA. As Doctors of Physical Therapy, we help identify the root cause of symptoms, asymmetries and movement dysfunction and work with individuals. We help provide the tools to make symptoms reduce and progress safely to return to activity. 

Many people have reduced strength in the muscles around the joint and specifically in the anticipatory core system which can lead to more symptoms. With the following exercises we’re looking at a bigger picture of how our body system works as a whole. 

5 Best Exercises for Lumbar DDD

Hip Mobility - Hip Circles

Hip Strength - Glute Bridge 

Gentle Lumbar Spine Mobility - Pelvic Tilts 

Core Stabilization - Deep Core Brace with Mini Marches 

Core Stabilization - Bird/Dog  

Give these a try let us know if you feel a difference.  This has worked with hundreds of clients that we have worked with both locally at our performance physical therapy clinic as well as with online training athletes that we program for.

Don’t wait to live your best life, we’d love to help you reach your goals and be a part of your transformation!

Most people don’t know how to stay healthy and fit without getting hurt. At Inside Out Strength and Performance we provide a clear plan to get you in the best shape of your life, without getting injured, so that you can be active and confident that you’ll feel your best for years to come.

We help North County San Diego’s active adults and runners dealing with pain or injury get back to living a pain-free, strong, and confident life.

We are the Strength Docs who help active adults and runners live a strong, confident, and pain-free life. Fill out our contact form to get a clear plan and get started. 


Frustrated with your current care or dealing with a pain or injury that just won't go away? Talk with one of our Docs today to find out the best way to get back to your best self.

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