Yes, walking can be good for degenerative disc disease.

Let’s be clear; if walking makes your symptoms worse, then instead of pushing through, you should modify how much walking you are doing and the speed with which you are doing it.

For a more in-depth review of things to avoid with degenerative disc disease please read this article that I wrote.

It also includes things you can do to improve your overall condition and quality of life. 

For my preferred and in my opinion the best exercise treatment program for degenerative disc disease (DDD), and really any kind of low back pain and sciatica, please check out this article.

Is walking good for degenerative disc disease?

As discussed above, yes, it can be, as well as several other types of cardiovascular activity. 

Walking has been shown in numerous studies to be of tremendous benefit to those with lower back pain. It’s also been shown that higher levels of walking and physical activity may reduce your risk of developing acute and chronic back issues.

Walking is effective regardless of the source of back pain, meaning, whether it’s from DDD, sciatica, stenosis, a disc herniation, or something else, walking is generally a very good form of movement to aide in your recovery. 

If it hurts to walk, try slowing down and taking small steps or speeding up and taking bigger steps. I’ve seen both of those work for clients. 

You can also change how long of a duration of time you are walking as well. 

For example, if you notice that symptoms onset at 10 minutes, try walking 9 minutes and see if the same thing happens. If you are able to walk that shorter duration of 9 minutes, do that multiple times throughout the day, and then test a week or two later if you can walk 10 minutes with minimal symptoms. 

You can use this strategy all the way up to 60 minutes of walking and beyond. The time interval jumps can be 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes or more, it all depends on how your body responds to the walking.


Use your discretion.  

Is cycling good for degenerative disc disease?

is cycling good for degenerative disc disease

Yes, cycling can be good for DDD and various causes of low back pain. I want to reiterate though that DDD can be contributive to LBP and cervical spine pain but not always. 

Don’t you love that nuance? Makes my job interesting for sure!

Just like you would start slow with walking, I’d also start slower with cycling. It is lower impact, however sometimes sitting for longer durations can be uncomfortable, so, again, use your discretion. 

There is nothing inherently wrong or bad about cycling. 

Is running okay for degenerative disc disease?

Yep, running is okay for DDD. There are many posts from various bloggers and larger sites that say avoid jumping and any sort of higher impact plyometric activity. The only problem is they don’t back that up with anything and they don’t share any personal experiences. 

I’ve now worked with 100’s of people who have had DDD and within that group of people there have been many runners, hikers, cyclists, volleyball players, etc. Name your sport I’ve probably worked with someone who had DDD. 

As long as you feel comfortable trying it out, go for it. The problem people run into (pun intended), is when they try something that they really don’t want to do and feel like they are being forced to do. Don’t fall prey to your ego!

Is lifting weights safe with degenerative disc disease?

man at dumbbell rack picking up dumbbell


Ha… You’re probably getting tired of hearing of the word “yes,” but it’s true. 

You don’t need to avoid lifting weights. Even heavy weights are not off the table. If you have DDD you are still encouraged to reach the ACSM (American academy of sports medicine) physical activity guidelines. 

These guidelines include resistance training at least 2x/week and lifting at a moderate intensity during these sessions. 

If you aren’t sure how to go about that please check this article out (I also linked above in the first couple of paragraphs). It’ll give you a couple of things you can work on and try out. 

I couldn’t go through every sport in this article, but if you’re a tennis player, here’s an article I wrote about whether or not you can play tennis if you have DDD. Enjoy!


How should you sleep if you have degenerative disc disease?

However is comfortable for you. This can be with a pillow between your knees while you lie on your side. 

It could also be lying on your back with a bolster under your knees and your feet hanging down. A pillow can also do the trick here. 

Sometimes people feel best when they are slightly propped up in bed. 

Ultimately, test out a bunch of different sleep postures and see which one works best for you. 

Sometimes you do need a new mattress, however i’d try quite a few different things before you go out and invest in a whole new bed setup. Or, if it’s time to upgrade anyways, go for it!

Bonus #2

Have you ever wondered if degenerative disc disease and arthritis are the same or not? I answered that question in this article that you might want to check out!

Key Takeaways

  • Walking, cycling, lifting weights and running are safe activities
  • Whether or not you can do these activities, and how vigorously, depend on the severity of your symptoms