Inversion therapy is one example of the many ways in which stretching the spine (spinal traction) has been used in an attempt to relieve back pain.
Rocking on an inversion table is also an effective method for treating bulging disks. This movement reduces pressure on the vertebrae and disks through spinal decompression. The inversion table places your body at angles with the head downwards so that gravity elongates the spine instead of compressing it, creating spinal decompression. By pulling the vertebrae away from each other, the disks have adequate room for their contents. A bulging disk is like a jelly doughnut mushed between your palms. The vertebrae trap it and push to force the liquid out when the space between the vertebrae is too narrow.
Spinal decompression can also reduce sciatica pain because it lessens the pressure on the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve runs along each side of the lumbar spine and down the back of the leg. However, a doctor's recommendation is still required before doing this method.
Meanwhile, these are the exercises you should and should not do:
1. Avoid Toe Touches - Standing toe touches, for example, put greater stress on the disks and ligaments in your spine. They can also overstretch lower back muscles and hamstrings.
2. Partial crunches can help strengthen your back and stomach muscles. Lie with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Cross arms over your chest or put hands behind your neck. Tighten stomach muscles and raise your shoulders off the floor. Breathe out as you raise your shoulders. Don't lead with your elbows or use arms to pull your neck off the floor. Hold for a second, then slowly lower back down. Repeat 8 to 12 times. Proper form prevents excessive stress on your low back. Your feet, tailbone, and lower back should remain in contact with the mat at all times.
3. Avoid sit-ups: Sit-ups may also put a lot of pressure on the discs in your spine.
4. Try Hamstring Stretches: Lie on your back and bend one knee. Loop a towel under the ball of your foot. Straighten your knee and slowly pull back on the towel. You should feel a gentle stretch down the back of your leg. Hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Do 2 to 4 times for each leg.
5. Avoid Leg Lifts: Leg lifts are sometimes suggested as an exercise to "strengthen your core" or abdominal muscles. Exercising to restore strength to your lower back can be very helpful in relieving pain yet lifting both legs together while lying on your back is very demanding on your core. If weak, this exercise can make back pain worse.
6. Do Wall Sits: Stand 10 to 12 inches from the wall, then lean back until your back is flat against the wall. Slowly slide down until your knees are slightly bent, pressing your lower back into the wall. Hold for a count of 10, then carefully slide back up the wall. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
7. Do press back-up extensions: Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders. Push with your hands so your shoulders begin to lift off the floor. If it's comfortable for you, put your elbows on the floor directly under your shoulders and hold this position for several seconds.
8. Bird Dog: Start on your hands and knees, and tighten your stomach muscles. Lift and extend one leg behind you. Keep hips level. Hold for 5 seconds, and then switch to the other leg. Repeat 8 to 12 times for each leg, and try to lengthen the time you hold each lift. Try lifting and extending your opposite arm for each repetition. This exercise is a great way to learn how to stabilize the low back during movement of the arms and legs. While doing this exercise don't let the lower back muscles sag. Only raise the limbs to heights where the low back position can be maintained.
9. Knee To Chest: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Bring one knee to your chest, keeping the other foot flat on the floor. Keep your lower back pressed to the floor, and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Then lower your knee and repeat with the other leg. Do this 2 to 4 times for each leg.
10. Pelvic Tilts: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on floor. Tighten your stomach by contracting it as though you were preparing for a punch. You’ll feel your back pressing into the floor, and your hips and pelvis rocking back. Hold for 10 seconds while breathing in and out smoothly. Repeat 8 to 12 times.