Studio Australia Barcelona Blog

How to recover from a herniated disc in 3 weeks

Part 2

Studio Australia Barcelona’s Director Natalia Laing bent forward to demonstrate a glut stretch on the barrel, felt something strange in her back, and then the next day couldn’t get out of bed.

This exercise is something she does every day, in fact many times a day but that’s the thing about disc injuries… day it just happens and often when you least expect it.

Following is Nat’s diary and day by day account of facing a serious diagnosis back injury and the first harrowing days of pain, fear and unknowing.

Day 3 –

Nothing’s changed.  I’m in bed resting or sitting in front of the TV.  Walking slowly around the house with my umbrella.  Hot showers.  Hot water bottle every few hours.  All the same muscles are still in spasm.  Slight sciatic pain down my leg but I can bare it.  The quadratus lumborum is where the pain is mostly coming from.  Still walking with an extreme lean to the left.  I kept feeling like my legs were going to give way on me.

I have to take a combination of strong painkillers and a cortisone injection every day.  I just can’t let Mandy stab me with the injection!  I’ve opted for my neighbour who has given it to me down in the local bodega!  The whole street now knows that I’m injured and the word is out about the jab!

Day 4 –

Another day of the same – still making myself move around the house, on the pain killers. Out of bed I feel I can move better. Turning over or getting out of bed is excruciating. Still in a lot of pain but a feeling that I can start to rehab soon.  Had friends for dinner, got a little too enthusiastic, moved a little too much, those painkillers are good. Combination of the pain killers and a sneaky glass of wine made me feel like everything was getting better. I was VERY VERY wrong.

Day 5 – 

SUFFERING.  Thinking I could do too much last night – just talking walking around the house and sitting at the table.  I’m in a lot of pain – back to where I was on day 2.  Back to bed rest and sitting in front of the TV. Moving VERY slowly around the house. Tried to do some dishes and couldn’t.  I can walk my dogs but with a lot of care, and only for 5 minutes.  I feel scared.

Day 6 –

Finally got out of the house for an acupuncture treatment.  I walked 15 minutes to work to have it.  It’s hard.  Feeling very bad.  Still with strong contraction of QL. Every movement hurts.  Sitting, laying, walking and standing.  I felt better after my treatment, well I felt calmer in my soul.  The pain starts to wear you out a little.  I could feel the effects of the session – it feels like some change – even if it’s only small.

Day 7 –

Home rest.  I just can’t push.  I know I just need to rest the injury.

Day 8 –

Home rest but starting to feel better and walking straighter.  My QL is releasing it’s vice-like grip.

Day 9 –

Physiotherapy treatment.  Had my Quadratus Lumborum released.  A very painful experience but a good one – ultimately. The truth is after the session my QL felt worse, which my physio warned me. As it began to spasm again, I struggled to walk home.  For a moment I was full of fear since the day before it had started to feel better. As soon as I arrived home, I had a hot bath. Then applied a hot water bottle again. It started to release again.  So glad I had gone to see the physio now.  I think because it was the first treatment on the muscle it reacted with a vengeance but then with a bit of heat it released beautifully.  Now I think is a good time to start rehab Pilates.

Day 10 –

First day of rehab Pilates. I begin stretching my quads against my couch. This felt amazing as they were very tight. I did 3 stretches on each side for 40 seconds each.  In this stretch I was able to stretch my hip flexors and ITB band also very gently.  After this I released my QL again manually with a ball and also my piriformis.  I can finally see some light.

Feeling confident I then did 2 of my stabilisation exercises that I teach all of my disc injury clients. The hip roll and the knee float while maintaining neutral spine.  All these years I have been teaching this and now I get to really understand what it feels like on the other side.  No wonder people are scared.

Day 11 –

Feeling more confident – I’m going to recover!!!  Did exactly the same releases and exercises as the day before.  Moving around more and feeling less pain.  Very cautious though.

Day 12 –

Today I have now added to my routine a gentle glut stretch on my back and single leg slides.  Slowly but surely I’m straightening up.

Day 13 –

First workout in the studio. Starting with a quad stretch against the box. Carefully stretched my psoas on the reformer then did gentle foot work on the reformer. I felt very very fragile and I was quite emotional as I realized after doing the reformer work how fragile I had become. Decided to work on my upper body instead and get some confidence back!  Thank God for lat pull downs and the claw series!

Day 14 –

My second acupuncture treatment.  Worked like a dream and opened all those channels that are still blocked – including my fear.

Day 15 –

Last day of rest at home.

Day 16 –

Tentatively but with some confidence in my knowing I went back to work.  Thinking about how most of the time my clients come to me after many weeks or even months of being in this state.  I was out of pain and I had a new respect for my body, this experience, my knowledge and my clients.


Next post we share with you Nat’s exercises, stretches and releases for recovery.

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