Top 5 Exercises for Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is a very common condition of the spine where the discs become dehydrated and lose height. Most commonly this occurs in the lower back (lumbar spine) followed by the neck, but it can occur anywhere in the spine.

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a common cause of back pain, but it can also affect other parts of the body. The discs are cushions between the bones in the spine, and they act as shock absorbers. As people age, these discs can become worn, dehydrated, or bulged, leading to the development of DDD.

The symptoms of DDD vary depending on the severity and location of the disc degeneration. Common symptoms include pain, stiffness, and tenderness in the back and neck. In some cases, the pain can also radiate down the limbs. Other symptoms can include numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness.

At this point it’s worth mentioning that degenerative disc disease is sometimes called lumbar spondylosis.

In many cases, the cause of DDD is unknown. However, certain factors can increase the risk of developing the condition. These include age, genetics, smoking, and certain activities that put stress on the spine, such as lifting heavy objects. Many therapists also attribute repeated forward bending to putting too much load on the discs.

Treatment for DDD depends on the severity of the condition. As the condition is chronic, only use medication for the short term. For longer term benefits, seek manual therapy from a physio or osteopath. At Surrey Physio we see dozens of patients every week suffering with degenerative disc disease.

Although DDD is a common condition, it is important to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to reduce pain and improve mobility. It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, proper posture, and avoiding activities that put too much stress on the spine.

Let’s look at our top five exercises for Degenerative Disc Disease

1. Hanging: Hang from a bar and try to gently take the weight off your legs. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Avoid using the door frame or other less secure objects to perform this exercise. It's useful for tractioning and stretching the muscles and joints across the shoulders and spine.

2. Lumbar Decompression Exercise: Lie flat on your back, with your feet resting on a chair. Relax in this position. You can place your arms above your head if you wish. This exercise is a decompression exercise for the spine, especially useful for lumbar disc problems.

3. Gentle Back Extension: Lie on your front, and rest on your forearms. Your back will be gently arched. Hold this position. Start gently with this exercise as it can cause some stiffness when you first begin.

4. Heat to the Lower Back: Sitting on a chair, place a heat pack, wheat bag or hot water bottle over your lower back. Be careful that its not too hot, you may need to wrap it in a thin towel. The heat helps stimulate fresh blood flow to an area, to reduce inflammation and pain.

5. Lumbar Rotation: Lie on a bed or floor. Bend your knees and keeping your feet flat on the bed or floor, rotate your hips to one side creating a rotation through your lower back. Only go as far as feels comfortable, you do not need to get your knees to the floor. Return to the opposite side. This is an excellent lower back mobility exercise, especially if you have acute lower back pain or disc problems.

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