Bulging Disc Treatment You Can Do At Home

Written by Dr. Steve Chaney on . Posted in Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Living

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

bulging discThis past week I taught an ultra-cyclist how to relieve a bulging disc that was causing him a great deal of pain and preventing him from riding the distances he loves.

The problem is aggravated by the aerodynamic position a cyclist is in while riding.

A bulging disc can happen to anyone though, especially if one sits a lot.  As we sit we do the same movements, only we contract the muscles and then hold them contracted for a long period of time as we sit

What Causes A Bulging Disc?

It’s easy to see why an ultra-cyclist would have a bulging disc with the extended riding times in the bent over aerodynamic position.

In the aerodynamic position the muscle of your anterior lumbar; the psoas, is held shortened.  Also, the muscle on the inside curve of your pelvis, the iliacus, shortens each time the leg is brought up toward the body when pedaling.

This position is great for riding, but when you stop and stand the tight muscles pull your lumbar vertebrae and your pelvis forward and down.  At first you may walk bent over, unable to stand up straight.  As your muscles relax you’ll begin to straighten, but many times it may take a while before you can fully stand upright and even then you may feel low back pain.

What Happens To The Vertebra?

vertebraWhen a vertebra is pulled downward and toward the vertebra beneath it, it puts pressure on the disc between the two vertebrae.  That pushes the gel-like substance inside the disc to press out the side.

A good analogy is to consider what happens if you step on one side of a jelly donut — the jelly pushes out the opposite side!

A bulging disc is when the gel pushes out the side but doesn’t break the outer lining of the disc.  A herniated disc is when the membrane cracks and the gel now squeezes out of the disc.

If the bulging disc, or herniated disc, presses into a nerve or your spinal curve, treatment is necessary to reverse the situation.  This is definitely a time when prevention is worth a pound of cure!

A Bulging Disc Treatment and Stretch That Works!

The Treatment:

Start by releasing the tension in your thigh muscles.  It sounds weird to release the muscles in your thighs to stop a bulging disc problem, but it’s important.

Using your forearm (as shown) press down deeply and slide your arm toward your knee.  Place extra focus, 30-60 seconds, on each tender spot (trigger point) you feel as you slide down your thigh.

Do this treatment several times on each leg.  This muscle release technique allows your pelvis to rotate back into proper position.

The Stretch:

stretches for bulging discStand up straight, as shown, place one of your lower legs on to a chair.  Keep your body as straight as possible.  Without moving your pelvis at all, lean back with your mid-back.

Visualize your abdominal muscles stretching — be sure not to move your pelvis.

You are now stretching both your psoas and iliacus muscles.  Repeat stretch using other leg.

You may feel a twinge of pain in your low back as the muscles stretch and pull on your lumbar.  This is normal.  It should not be a sharp pain.

An Alternative Stretch:

floor stretches bulging discAnd as an alternative stretch, if you are able to use the floor, the Sphinx pose is a perfect stretch for the psoas and iliacus.  Be sure to keep your pelvis on the floor.

Releasing the tight muscles of your back allow your vertebrae to separate naturally.  Whether you sit for hours at a time, or you ride for hours, this bulging disc treatment will give you relief and will prevent further disc injury.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly



About The Author

julie donnellyJulie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Trackback from your site.

Comments (2)

  • Judi


    What do I do if the bulging discs are in my neck ? Im assuming they are in my neck b/c thats where the pain is all the time.


    • Dr. Steve Chaney


      Dear Judi,
      I have forwarded your request to Julie Donnelly.

      Dr. Chaney


Leave a comment

Recent Videos From Dr. Steve Chaney


Latest Article

High Protein Diets and Weight Loss

Posted October 16, 2018 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Do High Protein Diets Reduce Fat And Preserve Muscle?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

Healthy Diet food group, proteins, include meat (chicken or turkAre high protein diets your secret to healthy weight loss? There are lots of diets out there – high fat, low fat, Paleolithic, blood type, exotic juices, magic pills and potions. But recently, high protein diets are getting a lot of press. The word is that they preserve muscle mass and preferentially decrease fat mass.

If high protein diets actually did that, it would be huge because:

  • It’s the fat – not the pounds – that causes most of the health problems.
  • Muscle burns more calories than fat, so preserving muscle mass helps keep your metabolic rate high without dangerous herbs or stimulants – and keeping your metabolic rate high helps prevent both the plateau and yo-yo (weight regain) characteristic of so many diets.
  • When you lose fat and retain muscle you are reshaping your body – and that’s why most people are dieting to begin with.

So let’s look more carefully at the recent study that has been generating all the headlines (Pasiakos et al, The FASEB Journal, 27: 3837-3847, 2013).

The Study Design:

This was a randomized control study with 39 young (21), healthy and fit men and women who were only borderline overweight (BMI = 25). These volunteers were put on a 21 day weight loss program in which calories were reduced by 30% and exercise was increased by 10%. They were divided into 3 groups:

  • One group was assigned a diet containing the RDA for protein (about 14% of calories in this study design).
  • The second group’s diet contained 2X the RDA for protein (28% of calories)
  • The third group’s diet contained 3X the RDA for protein (42% of calories)

In the RDA protein group carbohydrate was 56% of calories, and fat was 30% of calories. In the other two groups the carbohydrate and fat content of the diets was decreased proportionally.

Feet_On_ScaleWhat Did The Study Show?

  • Weight loss (7 pounds in 21 days) was the same on all 3 diets.
  • The high protein (28% and 42%) diets caused almost 2X more fat loss (5 pounds versus 2.8 pounds) than the diet supplying the RDA amount of protein.
  • The high protein (28% and 42%) diets caused 2X less muscle loss (2.1 pounds versus 4.2 pounds) than the diet supplying the RDA amount of protein.
  • In case you didn’t notice, there was no difference in overall results between the 28% (2X the RDA) and 42% (3X the RDA) diets.

Pros And Cons Of The Study:

  • The con is fairly obvious. The participants in this study were all young, healthy and were not seriously overweight. If this were the only study of this type one might seriously question whether the results were applicable to middle aged, overweight coach potatoes. However, there have been several other studies with older, more overweight volunteers that have come to the same conclusion – namely that high protein diets preserve muscle mass and enhance fat loss.
  • The value of this study is that it defines for the first time the upper limit for how much protein is required to preserve muscle mass in a weight loss regimen. 28% of calories is sufficient, and there appear to be no benefit from increasing protein further. I would add the caveat that there are studies suggesting that protein requirements for preserving muscle mass may be greater in adults 50 and older.

The Bottom Line:

1)    Forget the high fat diets, low fat diets, pills and potions. High protein diets (~2X the RDA or 28% of calories) do appear to be the safest, most effective way to preserve muscle mass and enhance fat loss in a weight loss regimen.

2)     That’s not a lot of protein, by the way. The average American consumes almost 2X the RDA for protein on a daily basis. However, it is significantly more protein than the average American consumes when they are trying to lose weight. Salads and carrot sticks are great diet foods, but they don’t contain much protein.

3)     Higher protein intake does not appear to offer any additional benefit – at least in young adults.

4)     Not all high protein diets are created equal. What some people call high protein diets are laden with saturated fats or devoid of carbohydrate. The diet in this study, which is what I recommend, had 43% healthy carbohydrates and 30% healthy fats.

5)    These diets were designed to give 7 pounds of weight loss in 21 days – which is what the experts recommend. There are diets out there promising faster weight loss but they severely restrict calories and/or rely heavily on stimulants, they do not preserve muscle mass, and they often are not safe. In addition they are usually temporary.  I do not recommend them.

6)    This level of protein intake is safe for almost everyone. The major exception would be people with kidney disease, who should always check with their doctor before increasing protein intake. The only other caveat is that protein metabolism creates a lot of nitrogenous waste, so you should drink plenty of water to flush that waste out of your system. But, water is always a good idea.

7)     The high protein diets minimized, but did not completely prevent, muscle loss. Other studies suggest that adding the amino acid leucine to a high protein diet can give 100% retention of muscle mass in a weight loss regimen – but that’s another story for another day.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.