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Can I Do Shoulder Press With Herniated Disc?

When you have been diagnosed with herniated discs, you need to bring specific changes to your exercise program. Because if you don’t plan it correctly, then your degenerative disc disease will only get worse, and you will suffer irreversible consequences.

Therefore, planning your workout routine properly is necessary. Among the exercises you must revisit, the shoulder press is one of the most important. So, it’s natural to ask, can I do a shoulder press with a herniated disc?

Yes, you can shoulder press even when you have bulging discs, but there are some things that you will have to keep in mind. That’s exactly what we will discuss in this guide.

What Is Herniated or Bulging Disc?

Now before we dive into how you can perform shoulder press with a herniated disc, you need to understand what disc herniation is and how it is connected to shoulder press. This insight is necessary; otherwise, you won’t be able to find a remedy, nor you will understand how you can perform a pain-free shoulder exercise.

In the human body, there are rubber-like discs located in the middle of vertebrae inside the spine. They have a soft center called the nucleus inside a strong exterior called the annulus. When this nucleus gets out from the annulus, it is called a herniated disc.

This mainly happens due to the cracks in the annulus, which can be an effect of aging.

While herniated disc can occur at many places in the human body, it mostly happens in the back where the discs are less flexible. When your disc bulge, it starts to press on the spinal nerves, which trigger immense pain in your lower back, shoulders, neck, and foot.

Performing Shoulder Press with a Herniated Disc

It is quite difficult to exercise with a bulged disc, especially ones that include lifting weights. However, there are ways you can counter this; you might have to go with a few pain management phases, but you can do lifting exercises like most people if you don’t trigger your herniated disk too much.

If you ask any physical therapist, all of them will recommend that you do exercise of some sort to retain the muscles located in your lower back. Otherwise, the lower back pain will only increase, and you might even have to opt for surgery just to survive, and you can bet that it’ll be quite painful.

That’s why you must keep your physical fitness in check with regular workouts. But in order to have great exercise, you need to incorporate heavy weights, and here is how you can do them even with disc herniations:

Maintaining Proper Form

Keeping good form is the key to performing difficult exercises like shoulder presses, even with a herniated disc. There are a couple of ways you can do this; contact your physical therapist and discuss which method will be the best option for you before you pick one.

Here are the types of shoulder presses that you can opt for to maintain the proper form:

Military Press

Instead of opting for shoulder presses behind your neck, you can start doing it from the front of your body; this will create a spinal extension when you lift weights so you can move easily and your discs aren’t facing too many of compression.

Seated Press

A good alternative for standing shoulder presses is a seated one. But the intervertebral discs are more likely to aggravate in this position unless you have lumbar spine support.

Because this way, the weight from your pull-ups hits your upper back, but there is no stress over the lower back, so your discs are doing fine.

This neutral position is also recommended for the bench press as well.

Split Stance

If you are using dumbbells, then dumbbell upright rows with a split stance. This way, when doing DB rows, your posture/form is more secure because the leg spread will keep your form stable while you are in motion, meaning there will be no pressure in the lower back, and there is zero chance of low back pain.

Things to Avoid

Now there are things you need to avoid when you start to do shoulder presses with intervertebral disc herniation.

No Overhead Neck Pressure

The first thing that you need to avoid is performing shoulder presses behind the neck. It is because most of us tend to lean forward, and when that happens, our core or the lower body also gets hunched forward.

This way, the discs in front of the spine are more likely to compress from this overhead press, leading to discomfort in your discs and triggering spinal nerves. Therefore, avoid this form of shoulder pressing, as it will only make your condition worse.

Lift Slowly

The next thing that you need to avoid is going too fast. Don’t do that unless you have been going at this pace for a long time with your herniated disc problems. Instead, take time with your shoulder presses. Go up very slowly and come down at the same speed. You can take three to ten seconds for every press.

This won’t have any detrimental effect, but working with a heavy weight and going slow will improve your back muscles drastically. It is also a form of strength training that many professionals opt for.

Avoid Barbells & Deadlifts

Lifting barbells and doing deadlifts can cause more pain and stress for your spine and can lead to an injury if you are suffering from herniated discs. So, avoid them completely. The same also goes for bench presses.

Remember, maintaining good health doesn’t mean you have to risk your life for it.

Can Arching Your Back During Shoulder Pressing Aggravate a Herniated Disc?

Arching your back during shoulder pressing can potentially aggravate a herniated disc. The increased stress on the spinal discs caused by shoulder press back arching may worsen the condition and lead to pain and discomfort. Maintaining a neutral spine position can help reduce the risk of exacerbating a herniated disc when performing shoulder presses.

Synchronization with Your Physical Therapy

You need to synchronize your exercises with your physical therapy to see optimal results. The problem in your spine due to the breach of the nucleus from the annulus can be different from others.

So, what exercises will be the best for your spine will depend on that data. So, talk to your physical therapist at least once before you finalize your workout routine. Otherwise, you will have to go through a lot of pain that you could’ve easily avoided.

Final Thoughts

Exercises with disc herniations do have restrictiveness, but this doesn’t mean you have to give up on them completely. Keeping your body fit is a must, and if you have come this far in the guide, then you already know what you have to do in order to perform shoulder presses with herniated discs.

So follow the instructions and suggestions in this guide and start working on your shoulders. Best of luck!

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About Ben Adler

I'm Ben, a passionate fitness enthusiast on a mission to help you achieve your fitness goals. With a love for lifting and building a well-rounded physique, I founded Swole Class to provide beginners with the guidance and knowledge they need to navigate the gym and embrace a healthier lifestyle. Join me on this journey as we unlock our potential and inspire greatness together. Learn more about me