Movement precautions for person with herniated cervical disc

Movement precautions for person with herniated cervical disc

Question

I have a student who is afraid to move due to a cervical disc herniation. I don’t want to hurt her! What precautions should I be taking?

Answer from Justine

Thank you for your question, and of course I understand your concern! The main thing is to never encourage your student to push through pain and always encourage them to listen to their body and stay with in the parameters that feel safe. It can be very scary coming back from an injury like that….even the smallest micro movement can be helpful. Encourage your student to start with just the gentlest of movements, linked to breath…..even a centimeter of movement is movement, and over time that range of motion will increase. Axial extension is key, to avoid compression on the discs and nerves. Inhale lengthen through crown of head, exhale and turn chin to right only as far as is comfortable, inhale to center, exhale to left. Repeating several times to each side. Same movement could go for flexion and extension and even a lateral stretch….but not when your student is in acute pain and with even the slightest amount of movement. Additionally, moving the shoulders, arms hands as well as the rest of the spine (and body, for that matter), can be beneficial to helping the client release overall tension. I know this probably goes without saying, but I say it every time anyway – no headstand or shoulderstand with cervical disc damage.
I included a video to release fascia in the neck, shoulder and arm as a safe and easy way to help someone with cervical disc damage release tension. The looking over the shoulder is just a range of motion test for the ‘aha’ moment, it is not necessary. I hope this helps your student…..and since the fascia is always tightening, this always works to release tension!