Walking, Exercise and Sex – What is Safe to do With a Herniated Disc? 

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If you’ve been diagnosed with or have a suspected herniated disc you may be concerned about what types of activity are safe for you. 

Sometimes the fear of pain or making the condition worse can lead people to stop activities they previously enjoyed and even to fear everyday movements like lifting the kettle. Whilst understandable, in most cases it’s beneficial to maintain a level of movement and activity.  

In this article, we’ll cover some common activities – walking, exercise and sex – and give some general advice about how to do them safely while you have a herniated disc.  

Firstly, what is a herniated disc? 

A herniated disc is a condition that occurs when the soft, gel-like material inside a spinal disc leaks out through a tear in the outer layer of the disc. This can put pressure on nearby nerves and cause pain or other symptoms. 

Some common signs and symptoms that may indicate a herniated disc include:


You may experience pain in the affected area, such as your neck, back, arms or legs. The pain may be dull, achy, or sharp, and it may get worse with certain movements or activities. 

Numbness or tingling 

You may also experience numbness, tingling or a pins-and-needles sensation in the affected area. 


You may notice that you have weakness in the affected area, such as your arms or legs, making it difficult to perform certain tasks. 

Difficulty with movement

You may have difficulty bending over, standing up straight or walking due to the pain. 

Loss of bladder or bowel control 

In severe cases, a herniated disc can cause loss of bladder or bowel control. If you experience this symptom, seek medical attention immediately. 

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see an appropriate healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. 

If you are diagnosed with a herniated disc and either awaiting or undergoing treatment, you may be wondering what common activities are safe to do. We’ve answered a few for you below.

Can you walk with a herniated disc? 

Walking with a herniated disc is usually possible, but the amount of walking that can be done will depend on the severity of the herniation and the level of pain or discomfort experienced by the individual.

Because the symptoms of a herniated disc can range from mild to severe, this can impact the ability to walk and perform other physical activities.

In some cases, walking may actually help alleviate the symptoms of a herniated disc, as it can help to strengthen the muscles that support the spine and increase circulation to the affected area. 

However, it is important to listen to your body and avoid any activities or movements that cause pain or discomfort. 

Can you exercise with a herniated disc? 

Whether or not it is safe to exercise with a herniated disc depends on the severity of the injury and the specific type of exercise you are considering. 

In general, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider or physical therapist before starting any exercise program. 

Low-impact exercises, such as walking, swimming, and cycling, may be safe and beneficial for people with a herniated disc, as they can help to improve overall fitness and strengthen the muscles that support the spine. 

However, high-impact exercises, such as running or jumping, may aggravate the injury and should be avoided.

It is also important to use proper form when exercising and to avoid any movements that put excessive strain on the back. In some cases, modifications to exercise routines may be necessary to accommodate the injury. 

Working with a Pilates instructor or a sports therapist with expertise in herniated discs may enable you to exercise with greater confidence.  

In summary, with proper guidance from a healthcare provider or physical therapist, it may be possible to exercise with a herniated disc, but the specific type and intensity of exercise will depend on the individual’s circumstances. 

Can you have sex with a herniated disc? 

Sexual activity is possible if you have a herniated disc but you may need to vary your sexual activity,  sexual positions, and movements to avoid pain or discomfort, or exacerbating your condition. 

If you have a herniated disc and are experiencing pain or discomfort during sexual activity, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider about this. 

They can provide guidance on managing your symptoms and recommend exercises or other treatments that can help improve your condition as well as make suggestions for ways to maintain sexual activity safely and comfortably. 

It is also important to communicate with your partner about your condition and work together to find ways to engage in sexual activity that are comfortable and safe for both of you. 

If you have any questions about the topics raised above you can contact us for advice at patientcare@coreclinics.co.uk.  

Disclaimer: The information provided above is intended as general guidance and does not constitute medical advice. Always consult a suitably qualified healthcare practitioner if you have any of the symptoms or conditions described above. 

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