Commonly Overlooked Exercise For Sciatica and Bulging Disc

Although the “Piriformis Stretch For Back Pain and Sciatica…Done Right!” viral video has helped thousands of people find relief from back pain and sciatica, it’s not a “slam dunk” for everyone…especially if your problem is a disc issue.

The exercise I share in today’s episode of Core Wellness TV focuses on low back pain and sciatica that come for disc bulges, disc herniations, and “slipped disc” (discs don’t really “slip” but a lot of people refer to it that way).

This move is especially worth a try if you find yourself leaning to the side and maybe slightly forward to “get away from the pain”.

In addition to the “side glide” exercise explained below, I want to give you my favorite handout for sciatica from disc issues.  It was put together by one of my greatest teachers, Dr. Craig Liebenson.  You can download that HERE.

Comments or Questions?  Post a comment below!


  1. I  have  knee pain in my right knee,,,goes from the knee cap upward to my thigh on the frontal side…years and years ago, the orth pedic dr. prescribed a knee brace which is supposed to correct the knee from traveling to the right,,now however, nothing helps..was thinking of a synvisc treatment..any suggestions?  pain is bad when my knee is drawn up close to body..the only way to get rid of the pain is to stretch out the leg…thx.

    • I would seek out a good manual therapist like a DC or PT who does Active Release Technique, Graston, or something similar who also does corrective exercise.  You need to find out what dysfunction you have in your hip or foot/ankle that is potentially causing the overload at the knee.

      I would try these conservative methods first before injections.  Here is my how to find a practioner checklist

  2.  What is the best way to determine if the pain is sciatica or a disc issue? I have a dull pain in my left leg which hurts under the buttox (where the most contact with the seat is) and on the back of the leg and occasionally the bottom of the tailbone It is annoying pain but manageable while sitting and laying down. But it flares up during stretches and when I stand up after sitting. I am incapable of sitting with my back straight and my legs perfectly straight (a pike) with this pain, I alway have to lean backwards or bend my knees to straighten my back (I am usually pretty limber though). I can do the Performis stretch with my right leg and very little pain, but I can't even get my back straight when I have my left leg propped up on my knee, I am forced to lean back or hunch.   I am able to easily do the side glide while keeping the back completely verticle and the pain almost goes away completely goes away, but returns when I sit. But this may also be because I am not putting much weight on the leg or bending the back. Any suggestions or tips for other types of stretches I could do?

    • Sciatica is merely a description of pain down the leg.  It can come from many sources but the disc is a very common one.  If pain in the leg goes away with the side shift, it is most likely disc related.

      Theoretically, when you raise your left leg in the piriformis stretch, you are pulling the sciatic nerve tighter and the nerve root where your nerve exits your spine is being irritated.

      Be sure to download the PDF I added above the video on this page for more strategies for disc issues.

      Once the sciatica stabilizes, then I would consider our training / coaching course for stability and full body posture and muscle balance restoration to help prevent future occurences. 

      • Dr. Steve

        I was diagnosed as having a herniated L-4/5 back in 2000. I went through a DC and after 6 months all was well. Then last year I noticed when walking my dog I was feeling pain in my left buttock and pain down my leg. My sciatica before was limited to burning, tingling, numbness. It would last a few weeks then go away. I am in it again. It is not 24×7. I work out 6 days a week. All low impact (cycling, spin class, elliptical). I am now on strong anti-inflamatories. I had been doing the piriformis stretch and if I am correct, this may be causing more harm than good?

  3. Hello Dr Hoffman,

    I am born with sacralisation of the 5th lumbar disc, it is partially grown with the 1st sacral disc.

    16 months ago, I gave birth to a little girl by Sectio caesarea. Since then, I have complaints of pain in the right side of my entire body, including ribs and neck, but and knee.

    Nothing helps for the moment: osteopathy, chiropractors, acupuncture, fasciatherapy, etc.

    Is it ok for me to do this exercise, or is there maybe another, a much better exercise that can get my sacralisation a little bit looser?


    • It is worth a try if you have not done this yet, Heidi.

      Go slow and if any symptoms worsen stop immediately.  Remember you may feel uncomfortable in your back but what you're watching for is mainly a reduction in the butt and knee symptoms.  Optimally, the knee pain will reduce first.

      Follow the video instructions very carefully and be sure to also download the PDF above the video with more strategies.

      • Hello Dr. Hoffman,

        I have just tried the side glide. I have a large bulge at L4-L5 and no wonder stretching wasn’t helping at all! I also have a dead disc just before the sacrum, and I would not be surprised if the vertebra had fused with the sacrum, as when I get up I feel something like a giant scab pulling.
        I also had a fall from a height 20 years ago, directly on the left SI joint. I think all the damage may be related to that fall, and some other minor ones with a bike, and a fall on ice on the coxxyx.

        The pain got better only after I finally decided to give up almost all exercise, INCLUDING swimming which I loved!!!. Walking, one of my favourite actitives, results in a lot of tension around the waist and I normally have to lie down and let it all ‘click’ and relax.

        I have to do this at least three times a day, if I want to survive a day at work (on a chair, or standing up).

        Today I tried the glide as you showed – and it felt really good, not like a lot of the stretches I do which seem to irritate the sciatic nerve.

        I’m rather desperate because it’s been years in the make this bulge, and nobody helped at the time. It all became severely painful one day, while lifting a 6kg weight from the floor, while I was tense and angry in the gym.

        That was two years ago, and since then I’ve had very little respite. I cannot honestly put my finger on what causes flare-ups, except that there is a coincidence with every time I increase exercise, or just physical activity, not just one day, but consecutively for a few days. Or if I sit too much. Or if I walk more than a mile. Or if I sleep badly. It certainly ‘decentralised’ after a longer swim than usual, and the pain went on to the side. It’s always the left side, and now I’m developing knee pain, because I walk a bit forward, and a sharp pain in the left side of my neck because I have to tilt my chair right back in order to withstand a computer job, resulting in having to strain my neck forward.

        Some days start in pain and ease up later, some days it’s the opposite.

        I hear or rather feel a clunking – like a cord or string that moves around my leg when I walk. A tiny snap, which usually early in the morning gives me pain inside the thigh, like an arrow from front to back. Then it goes away with my little easing movements, like walking on my toes for example.

        If you could just tell me – have I got any hopes of recovering and having a normal life again?

        So far any conservative treatment has not helped. I’ve tried them all, and the quacks included.

        Medicines (antinflammatories and pain killers including opiods) no longer worked during a flare up in December last year, and my doses were increased. I ended up in hospital with a life threatening case of anaphylactic shock which hives that lasted almost a week, despite the cortisone and the oral steroids given.

        After that, I did very little, avoided stress as much as I could – and was relatively well. Walked no more than a mile a day.

        In April, I increased my activity level (walking to work instead of getting the bus) and took a lot of – psychological stress (bereavement, family, work, etc). It got painful, but I cannot say it was excruciating.

        I have some degree of pain every day, and I shift around a lot, change seat, stand up at the desk (an adjustable one). But to no avail

        I’ve prepared my swimming costume and swimming gloves, and I would like to try it again, it was so good at working my ‘sides’ waist and all. I feel these tensions on my left side could be helped.

        In December I had started using my legs a lot for swimming, so I’ll just return to using the gloves, or nothing and just use the ‘lazy leg’ instead of the good straight leg as one is taught when swimming in good form.

        I heard a disc bulge like this can take 3-5 years to heal completely.

        I keep saying to everyone ‘it’s a lot better now’ but I feel this isn’t really true – perhaps I’ve just learnt to cope better and I’m trying to sound optimistic.

        I’m 53 – I want to have a full time job again and not have to crash asleep as soon as I get home for the sheer tiredness of coping with the pain while smiling at work.

        Do you think there are good chances these discs heal by themselves? Maybe that’s why my orthopaedic surgeon is cancelling and postponing appointments since last November.

        Sorry this message sounds a bit desperate.

        Btw, I also do mindfulness and record my happy thoughts in a bid to reprogramme my neural pathways, but it’s definitely easier to feel happy if there is no pain!

  4. Dr. Steve,     

    As you know, I'm one you have worked with in which this exercise offered instant relief, so I'm a believer! For everyone else reading this, in my situation it was a serious disc issue confirmed by an MRI.  I just wanted to mention to Jay above that the advise you recommended to him to get involved with the 'training/coaching' program is sound advise.  I am now a year out from my disc injury and am enjoying all my normal activities witch now also includes the exercises in your program! I attribute my recovery to your program and expertise!

    As always, thanks for all you do so willingly.


  5. Dr. Steve,

         Another great message. Never worry about your clothes…it is the message that is so important and you deliver it with a sincere manner. I ALWAYS look forward to your videos. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to help those of us who appreciate you. God Bless.



  6. DrSteve

    Changing topics on you  …. I was looking through some old notes on some of your videos/teachings …. soooo back some time ago you talked about HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).

    Long story short , you used 200 – age (plus some other variables) to calculate Max HR.

    Other people use 220 – age to calc Max HR.

    I am thinking yours is just a little more conservative … any other comments on why the different approaches?




    • Hey Pete, my heart rate recommendations have always followed Phil Maffetone's philosophy.  Here's a link to his site where he explains his rationale.  I also like the comment from Grant Molyneux in this post about "nasal threshold" for aerobic training and have found it to be right on.

  7. I have tingling in my right pinky/hand and intermittent achy pain in right hip.  I have a bone spur on that side I believe (MRI).  I have had decompression therapy and it was quite expensive out of pocket.  It was OK  stopped pain and halted leg and foot loss of control; but I went back to old habits.  My symptoms returned.  I bought a Teeter Hanger.  I have the back belt and ice packs from therapy.  Can I achieve the results myself rather go back for more out of pocket expensive therapy?  What do you think of inversion therapy?  I recently had acupuncture cupping which gives temporary relief; but concerned there may be harm.  I can hear (feel) a crunchy sensation during and the acpuncturist even commented it had lessened since the first treatment.  I can also feel the lumps which disappear if I tuck in and stand up straight and realign.  TMI?

    • If you’ve never tried the Mckenzie approach as described in this video, Jeanne.  It is definitely worth a try.  Find a DC or PT who does Mckenzie if you need more specific guidance, OK?  Inversion is great for self decompression if you can handle being inverted.

  8. Hey, Dr. Steve!

    Very glad I came across this vid on YouTube. I'll try to keep this brief, but there's some background to consider. 1)  I've had longstanding lower back problems for decades. At one point a chiropractor said (I believe) it was a problem with a frozen lumbar disc and an over-compensating one. ) The pain was traditionally on the left side) 2) About six years ago, I had a bout of sciatica. I got rid of it myself quickly by doing a protracted series of stretches and exercises. 3) Four months ago, I had a left-leg knee pain unlike anything I've ever had (and I had chrondomalacia as a teen and 'runner's knee' at about the same time I had the above sciatica): it was behind the knee to the right, and eventurally radiated around to the front-left. 4) Around the same time, I developed what I first thought was sciatica, but this time, on my right side. I changed tack and applied piriformis syndrome exercises and stretches. I was successful within about a week, ten days. However… 5) I still have pain in the same location, but this is different: it feels more like bone-on-bone: it's sharp. 6) I did the stretch in this video and immediately had increased pain in the area. (When I do either the sitting or prone, on my back versions of the traditional stretch (keeping my back straight!), I get nothing but good stretching feelings and results. 7) I'm fitness-centric, have been all my life. Currently am doing a combo of yoga, calisthenics, weights and running. Nothing I do exacerbates the pain during the activity…save for doing a 'Reverse Side Angle (Warrior) pose. And finally, 8) I'm a writer, so I spend a lot of time sitting. 

    I'm beginning to think that I have a disc problem. I have a physical next week with a new GP and have asked to make these two problems (knee and back) a priority; I'm hoping for x-rays for starters. 

    Here's my question: given everything I've noted, what's your impression of what ails me?

    Thanks in advance, 


    • Schmadrian,

      You need a solid orthopedic and FUNCTIONAL assessment to find the cause of your problem.  There are too many factors for me to even take a guess.  I would highly recommend checking out one of the practitioners listed here near you 

      I do not know them but they I know they have a functional approach from their association with ISCRS.  You must find what is dysfunctional and causing your painful overload.

  9. Dr. Steve,

    I am one of those people who found you through the  "Piriformis Stretch For Back Pain and Sciatica…Done Right!" I modified the exercise by doing it on my back in my bed, and crossing my left leg as far as I could over my right. At first I was only able to get as far as over my other ankle. With time I got so I could cross my leg over to just below my knee. When I was able to do that the pain I had went away. When standing I was able to cross my left ankle over my right, something I could suddenly do I had not been able to do for 40 years. I was quite excited. I continued to work on the exercise, but as I tried to go higher as in the video. I began to have pain again. So I stopped doing the exercise. Often the pain would return. I found this video by following the posts. I did it, and my pain stopped. I am so encouraged that one day I will be moble again. I am so glad I decided to join this course. Thank you so much for making this valuable information available.

  10. I hurt my back year ago bending forward while catching someone from falling playing bball. I couldnt stand straight for a week and my back and butt were tight for while. But now when I sit in a chair and rest my left leg hip-height on the bed, my leg will go numb after a while. But i never experience any pain at all.

  11. Hi, Dr. Steve,

    my problem is very similar to Carol Wheeler. I find it very difficult to cross my legs, but I try. I also do this exercise on my bed and also on the floor. I've only done this twice so far and I still have the pain down the right side of my right leg. The pain was so bad it woke me up in the middle of the night and I couldn't get rid of it without medication. I also have two numb toes on my right foot, but they seem to be responding after the exercise. I think I have a long way to go. Test number 3 went very well. I will keep going with the tests. Here's to wishful thinking:)

  12. I am feeling very encouraged. My body is starting to move in ways I had no idea it would ever again, and pain is so much less than it has been for years. The concept of moving like your body was originally designed to move, seems so logical and simple. However, this is the first time I have ever been exposed to that concept. It is also the only thing that has ever worked. Thank you Dr. Steve for sharing your wisdom in this wonderful course. 

  13. Thank you thank you thank you!  This simple exercise IMMEDIATELY relieved my sciatica and leg imapirment, rescuing me from weeks of debilitating pain and dysfunction.  Your step by step explanation made it very easy to understand and replicate.  Up until now, nothing else I tried worked, and I even ended up in the ER for an MRI and had to use morphine for the pain. 

    Again, thank you so much for making this video.  You are a credit to your profession, sir!

    • That's great, Aaron!    And you're welcome.  Glad you found it useful!  The side glide can definitely be magical for the right person at the right time.  Luckily this time it was you!

  14. Dr. Steve,

    I am a 24yrs old.. I was suffering from lower back ache and extreem pain along my left leg 2months back.. went to doc and was diagnosed with minor slip disc..
    Got a MRI done which said “L2-L3, L3-L4 and L4-L5 discs show minimal left foraminal bulges but no significant canal compromise. T2W sagittal screening of rest spine shows no diagnostically significant abnormality except straightening of cervical spine.” The doc gave meds and asked me to wear L.S. Belt most of the time.. I completed the one month medication course.. The leg pain is very minimal now but the back ache remains.. I still wear the belt everyday and find it very uncomfortable.. Saw a number of YouTube videos for excersise but found them contradicting.. Kindly advise..

  15. My husband was diagnosed as having a ruptured nucleus pulposus 40 years ago and has fortunately not had any significant back problems throughout the years. He has, however, suffered from symptoms consistent with the condition meralgia paresthetica and it seems to be getting worse. I've read that lumber disc herniation can mimic the symptoms of meralgia paresthetica. What do you think would be his best course of treatment? 

    • First, find the root cause.  They certainly can mimic one another. 

      A chiropractor or PT who does a soft tissue release method like active release technique would help to see if symptoms are improved by soft tissue work in front of the pelvis. 

      They should also be able to tell if it is disc/spine related with a proper exam.

      Ask if they know mckenzie methods or do Active release technique and that would be a nice bonus.  Hope that helps.

  16. Hi,

    I'm diagnosed with disc herniated and have quite pains in my left leg.

    I sow your recommendation exercise and I’m curious to know how  long these exercise should take place in order to start filling les pain.

    Thank you.

    Best regards

  17. Hi Dr Steve

    Thanks for taking the time to post such an informative video. My back seized up 5 days ago when lifting my bike and was initially in excruating pain and unable to get up (spasms). I am able to get up now but have a severe lean to the left with very tight hip muscles on the right which means that I have difficulty walking and standing. For more than 5 minutes.

    A physio came to see me yesterday as I am house-bound and said I might have a slipped disc and the priority was to get me straight. She told me to do these slde glides every hour . I am straighter for 5 minutes and then the leaning and muscle tightness comes back. I am very worried about this lack of progress and am wondering what I should do.

    Any advice greatly appreciated.

    • Michelle,  consistency pays off when you truly do have the type of disc issue that responds to the side glide (called a relevant lateral component).  Hopefully you are straightening up by now as it’s been a few days since you posted.  Sorry I don’t usually get to my blog comments immediately.

  18. Hi there! Its 3 something am & my lil brain is short circuiting & Im too tired to fight with it right now. I just wanted to get started communicating (somewhat) with you. I found your video after finding the 1 by 2 PTs on this subject. I need alot of help. I cant rely on drs & pts here, hence the last 20 years. Please respond, when I know you hear me Ill respond in more detail when I wake up 🙂 Please know your help is desparately needed, & greatly appreciated

    thank you


  19. Sir,
    My age is 23,I am suffering from lower back pain buttocks (left side) in my x ray report it shows minimal in l4 and l5 and l5 and s1.
    While standing full of pain up to foot,
    And while sleeping no problem but while wakeup even I am not able to sit or stand
    And what ever you shown in this video that happened to me I am leaning one side I tried your exercise it good for some time and again I am leaning.
    I need total day exercise structure to fix it.And I am fears about the problem is it general problem or series what are setting position and sleeping position.
    Is it cures completely or temporary I need complete details to my mind set
    Pls help me sir,
    Thank you

    • Since I cannot diagnose your issue through the blog, please visit a chiropractor or PT who is familiar with Mckenzie method for a definitive diagnosis.  It could be a disc related pain if you are leaning away like you said.  If the exercise helps as instructed,  keep doing it until you are pain free then the free exercise series you got when you sign up at could help stabilize your spine.

      If it is a disc issue it simply means you need to create less stress in your spine with your movements.  That’s what we help you do at

      Good Luck, sir!

  20. I have a herniated disc (L4-L5) that I have been dealing with for 2 months. I did have it centralized then reinjured it when I was at the doctors office putting my shoes back on from the visit.  Now, I have centeralized the pain in what feels like my tailbone again.  My questions are these:  Does a herniated disk ever really heal and how long should I avoid bending forward to avoid reinjury again? In other words, how do you know??

    • Yes, it can heal. Your body can resorb any extrusions over time. If you have a disc injury you simple become a hip hinging fanatic with a flat back for daily life activities.

      Forward spinal flexion can be done non weight bearing in a quadruped / all 4’s position to keep that movement map in your brain.

  21. Hi Dr. Hoffmann,

    I am 28yrs old. Around 2 years ago I went through an MRI, which determined that I had a herniated disc. The disc was touching the sciatica nerve. At that time, for about 1 month I could barely walk. Now two years later, I am almost perfect.. I do wheight training, running, and all the 9yards. The pain is no longer there when I sit, stand, sleep, or run. However, if i bend forward the pain comes back, but not as intenese as before. The pain is on the left side, and goes down my buttox. Also if i stretch my left leg i got that pinching pain in my lower back and it feels as if my hamstring muscle is pulling to hard. which is painfull..All these being said, the pain is manageable, but I dont want that disconfurt, especially that I will join the Army in 3 months… I know my disc has healed, at the same time it is not 100%. Is there anything I can do to come at least close to 100% besides surgery?

    • Develop an awesome hip hinge and avoid ham stretching with a rounded back, Eno. Work with a DC or PT who knows Mckenzie therapy methods.

  22. Dr. Steve-

    When doing the Side Glide, how should I distribute my weight between my right and left legs? For example, when I lean my left side against the wall my tendency is to put about 80% of my weight on my left leg. Should I be distributing my weight differently? Also, should my feet be together or apart?

    Is the Side Glide used for healing, diagnosing or both? If it is used for healing, what is your recommendation for working it in with my other exercises? What kind of frequency, how long, etc?


    • Feet together and imagine them as one support. It is diagnostic…as is all movement. And yes, it is for healing as well.

      Great movement prep before exercising. 5 to 10 reps will help redistribute disc compression load.

      • Dr. Steve-

        How long of a hold time on the 5 to 10 reps?

        Should I do the Side Glide on one side, or both sides of my body. My pain is entirely on one side only?


  23. Dr. Steve I have sciatica pain in my right side. I’ve gotten two epidurals and going for another as well as physical therapy. I’m overweight and I am in the process of throwing off my weight to become better and healthier. After my second epidural on my right side my left side lower back into my buttock began to tingle a little bit. What can I do to reverse all of this pain? I have sciatica due to bulging disc

    • The exercise on this page is a disc related exercise and this PDF talks about disc related sciatica issues as well.

      Epidurals don’t actually “fix” anything. Only correct rehab, exercise, diet, and lifestyle can fix it.

      If it’s truly disc related sciatica then a chiro or pt with experience in Mckenzie therapy is important.

      Put your address in the search box here to find a starting list of chiros
      Dropping weight will help but you must reprogram your movement patterns and stability patterns that led to the overload to begin with. That’s what we do in our full course. There’s info on that at

  24. Hi can you help me please, 2 years ago I had a fall from the top of a ladder which left me with sciatica diagnosed by’s never gone away I’ve had physio but hadn’t worked , it’s getting worse and I’m waiting for mri scan on my back , but my pain is more focused on my lower back feels like constant pressure on my lower spine , pains shoot into itas well , also a dull ache feeling constantly in my butt cheeks with shooting pains also and shooting down one leg, can’t get any relief from the pain I’m on codine and heat pack.have I possibly got a herniated disk ?

    • Yes possibly a herniated disc. Be sure to seek out a physio who uses Mckenzie methods to diagnose and treat disc related issues.

      Also search “disc” on this site and there is some more posts about disc issues.

  25. Dr Steve

    Thank you for the reply, I do feel like it’s getting worse now have pains also in my elbows. Period pain which I always get raging back ache sent my pain sky high I hurt so bad I felt sick like I was going to pass out and very nearly ended up calling an ambulance it was that bad. I would rather give birth again with no pain relief.

  26. Hi doc,

    Well I have been dealing with heel pain for over a year now. They first said it was baxters nerve entrapment and had number of injections and even had cryotherapy and froze the nerve twice in my left heel. After that they said must have bad plantar fasciitis and wanted to cut me and this is when I decided to go to a spine specialist and they did a nerve study and all results show lower back. Well had X-ray done and shows s1-l5 the disk spaces are not very good and ordered MRI. Now could this possibly be an impinged nerve or possibly a disk issue. The heel pain is really what gets me as this could be a possibiltity from the impingement from lower back. Been doing all your stretches sitting down and Ice. Do you have any other advice to deal with please. Went from a marathon runner to not being able to run for a year now.


    • Herman, even if the MRI and x-rays show disc degeneration / bulging / etc. That does not mean definitively it’s the cause of your heel pain. I would connect with a dc or pt who does active release technique, graston, or other soft tissue methods along with functional rehab to further work up the heel.

      A plus would be someone who also is familiar with Mckenzie methods to rule out disc / spine as the cause.

      Search and

      If you find someone on both, you’re golden…good luck my friend.

  27. Hello Doctor,

    I have been suffering from back pain since an year. Sitting (even on ergonomic chair) for more than 20 minutes triggers moderate sciatica pain and I experience short momentary sciatica pain during exercises which vanishes after few minutes. I don’t get pain while walking.

    My MRI reports to have annular disc bulge in L4-L5 and L5-S1 with an impression of lumbar spondylosis. All the doctors I consulted said it is a minor one. I have been exercising regularly and take regular breaks throughout the day during my desk job. But, I still experience little to moderate sciatica pain in the toes and calf area. Please advice how do I get over this permanently.

    Thank you

    • Hi Uday, although the symptoms sound discogenic in nature, it’s not for sure the cause of the sciatica. Lots of people have disc bulges with no symptoms at all Be sure to get evaluated by a dc or pt who is familiar with mckenzie method if the pain in toes and calf persist.

      Once sciatic symptoms start improving, learn how to use your core and achieve ideal posture and movement with the course inside the Core Wellness Institute. This is your best insurance. Details are at

  28. Dear respected dr.
    I have disk buljing in L3,4,5
    when i was 25year. and i got surgery too. but now i am getting pain again after 5 year when i have been taking MRI again, i got same like before L3,4,5 as well as c9 & c10 also slidely bulging.for this what i have to do. i got back pain and its came to left leg before surgery but this time left leg again. kindly help me.

    with regards

    • Rikesh, you can gather info from this site by putting “disc” in the search box and it will bring up more ideas.

      If this side glide helps…then stick with it.

      Ultimately, get to a chiro or pt who knows Mckenzie methods for a solid individualized program if indeed it is your disc causing the problem.

      The fundamentals series you get by entering your name and email here on the blog could be useful for your recovery as well.

  29. Hi there,

    I am having many back issues that I am having trouble sorting out. An MRI showed I have a moderate disc bulge to the right between L4/L5 and a small bulge between L3/L4. I can’t bend without leaning backside/hips to the left, away from my right side, similar to what your video says. I don’t have pain down my leg, but I do have quite a bit of pain in my right hip. I was also told I have S.I. joint dysfunction (before the results of my MRI were known), and it feel like the pain is coming from the right SI joint. No one can tell me the correlation between the two issues, or what my long term prognosis is. I am doing everything my physio and chiropractor are telling me, but it seems like the underlying weakness and pain never go away. Any advise or information you can tell me would be greatly appreciated.

  30. I have sciatic and glute pain on my right side, but I lean towards it rather than away. My MRI shows the disc extruded out to the right. I went to a McKenzie therapist who had me try the side glide with my right (pain) side to the wall. Opposite of what you show, due to the backward nature of my response. I was supposed to do it every hour. At first it seemed to help but then it started making me spasm. I stopped but now I can barely walk.

    Does his reversal of the exercise seem right to you?

    • Whatever motion has been prescribed should cause “centralization”, which means pain or numbness should come out of your extremities and into your back. If pain increases or travels farther down the leg then that is not the correct loading strategy.

      I can’t give you a specific exercise prescription, of course, but playing with a touch of forward flexion or extension before gliding can help create the proper loading. If it causes increased symptoms on one side it would make sense to consider the side glide in the opposite direction.

      Hope that helps, Brenda.

  31. What does this mean MRI lumbar spine:
    L4-L5 minimal broad-based disc bulge without significant central stenosis. Bilateral that arthropathy and joint effusions. Mild left and mild-to-moderate right neuroforaminal stenosis.
    L5-S1: minimal broad-based disc bulge without significant central stenosis. Mild bilateral neural foraminal stenosis. My test result nobody give me answer

  32. Hello-
    I have two herniated disks. L4 and L5/S1. With pain going down my right leg. I have been in chronic pain for almost 7 months. I just watched your video of the side glide and it did help with some pain this morning. Do you have other excercoses or know more about the McKenzie method that you can share? Thank you.

    • Hi Becky….search “disc” on this site in the search box and a couple other posts will show up. One has a good PDF to review.

  33. I am 90 years old and and do exercise as I should but in Feb 2015 I went on a 10 day cruise and walked about a mile a day and then I got some pain on the outside of my calve. I had dvt 2 years ago and got clots in both lungs and have been on xarelto ever since . My son thought the pain might be from a dvt so he arranged a ultra sound at Duke which was negative but they said to go to orthopedic and they said get PT . The PT girl said I didn’t walk strait enough and gave me exercises including the slide glide with my left on the wall . My left leg never had any pain but this exercise has given me sciatica in the left leg according to my primary doctor at Duke. I get bad during the nightin the was good left leg. What can I do to reverse the pain?

  34. Hi Dr Steve,

    I have a left sided disc protrusion to the L4/5 and a L5/S1 disc tear – this is stated in my MRI scan.

    It doesn’t impact on the nerve so no sciatic pain which is good, however I am still in a lot of discomfort.

    Here is my question.

    The slide glide I do frequently and believe it is very much helping, so thank you for demonstrating and providing that information. I wanted to know if other exercises such as the “bird dog” and “back arching” may help as well? Given mine bulges to the left I am not sure if these exercises/stretches are going to help?

    Any advice or assistance you can help on this matter would be highly appreciated.

    Thank you so much.


  35. Hi, Dr.

    2 weeks ago I was stupid enough to mess up my L4/L5 and L5/S1 doing a wrong machine in the gym with too much weight on it. Ironically, my intent was to “strengthen the back muscles” to “cure” occasional back pain. To quote the MRI report: <>

    The symptoms are scary: weak right leg, severe pain in the right buttock, severe numbness of the foot, inability to pull the big tow up. For a former US champion in ballroom, this is especially scary.

    Any specific exercise you’d recommend to alleviate the impingement on the L5 nerve?

  36. Hi, Dr. Steve

    2 weeks ago I was stupid enough to mess up my L4/L5 and L5/S1 doing a wrong machine in the gym with too much weight on it. Ironically, my intent was to “strengthen the back muscles” to “cure” occasional back pain. To quote the MRI report:

    L5-S1: There is an annular tear and focal right foramental disk herniation, compressing the exiting right L5 nerve root. There is moderate arthropathy. There is an underlying disk bulge abutting the ventral thecal sac without significant spinal stenosis.

    L4-L5: There is moderate to severe facet arthropathy and grade I anterosithesis. There is a disk bulge identified. Ther eis a milf effacement of the ventral thecal sack and mild to moderate bilateral neaural foramenal narrowing. No evidence of significant central canal stenosis.

    The symptoms are scary: weak right leg, severe pain in the right buttock, severe numbness of the foot, inability to pull the big tow up. For a former US champion in ballroom, this is especially scary.

    Any specific exercise you’d recommend to alleviate the impingement on the L5 nerve?

  37. Hi Doctor, I have been diagnosed with a disc protrusion at L5-S1 with a CT Scan. My sciatic pain is on the right side of my body but the funny thing is that the CT Scan said its a right sided protrusion. I’m leaning to the right when I get out of bed but after about 5 minutes I straighten up as a walk. I’ve tried piriformis stretches, I’ve tried extension stretches and I’ve tried sideglife stretches but nothing is really working. I’ve had this herniation for 2 months now and am doing physio. My pain level is about a 3-4 throughout the day. Its very slowly improving but I can’t seem to get it to diminish. Any help would be great! Thank you for your time!

  38. I want more babies. I’m 35 years old, I just had my son 3 months ago, but even before pregnancy my siactic nerve has been killing me, had the disc L4/L5 jelly removed in May 2011, helped until about 2 years ago and it’s gotten worse, I’m sure the 50+ pounds I gained didn’t help. I was going to a chiropractor but just couldn’t afford the copay 2-3 times a week. I didn’t know leaning from the pain was a thing people did until you said it, I cried. I can’t stand straight, I’m always leaning on my right side (that’s the side that hurts), I can barely bend, putting my son down is hard, picking him up, etc. Anything to do with bending is a no no. But I want like 2 more kids and just don’t know how my back’s going to hold up. Please teach me what to do. Thank you

  39. hi,

    i did an MRI that showed that my l4-l5 disc is bulging. i did some therapy but now the pain is intense i limp with my right leg and the pain goes down to my feet. the upper muscles of my back pain alot am not able to do anything because of the pain please help.

  40. hi doctor

    i have been having sciatic pain after few days of training in gym may be due to heavy cycling after a long time and lifting heavy weights …. i have tried your side glide method and while doing this i feel vibration sennsatioms in my legs up to my calves is it working ?? or should i stop … after stopping the glide pos their is a relif though in my legs . thank you

  41. Hi there,

    Have just tried the basic tests. And, I just finished doing the “side glide”. Here’s what happened to me. I didn’t feel any back pain, leaned forward a wee bit and noticed a feeling of a pain in my head (this is all left sided).

    My pain has been felt between my left thigh and my hip for almost 3 months now. (I tried MAT therapy), even my GP didn’t give me a diagnosis. I felt it was not sciatica (there was no real back pain involved). all my life I have had occasional back/spine “glitches” as I call them, sudden nasty pains, that often lasted minutes only.

    Anyhow, I am not sick of taking regular pain killers (Motrin) in the last couple of weeks, because it is so debilitating.

    I sit and type (for work) for hours on end. I also gained about 20 pounds since June 2016. Before this pain (which felt like a knife between the hip and leg when I went to get up, initially) I was walking every single day for at least 1/2 an hour.

    I would love to hear what you have to say. I am hoping that, doing your exercises and tests, I might be helping myself.

    Thanks so much.


  42. Hello Doctor,

    I watched your video about Sciatic Nerve pain and the exercise to help it. I have a bulging disc that is pinching that nerve for a while now. The wall exercise looks like it may help my pain I’m having. I am currently working out with the treadmill and bike at my neighborhood gym. My question is how long will it take for the numbness. tingling, and pain to leave my foot and leg? Thank you.

  43. Hello, I have a bulging disk and sciatica on both legs. Would i do the side glide on both sides or would it just hurt the opposite side if i did that. Been dealing with this for about 3 months now and can’t find relief with numerous types of therapies. Pleas help!!
    Thank you!

  44. Have an annular fissure.. just cleaned the bathtub i know im dumb right leg is kinda numb from butt down how do i fix it??

  45. I’ve been dealing with an l4-l5 disc bulge for 5yrs, with stretching and exercise I’ve lessened pain but it never fully went away. I recently re-injured the disc and its taking forever to heal. I tried this Mckenzie move and get instant relief but after awhile if i bend or sit it seems to pop back in place and pain comes back. Maybe my body needs to relearn how to align itself. I’ve got an appointment soon to diagnose problem again but was just curious if i should continue doing this move. Like i said I’m pain free after move until it pops back which is very painful btw. Just hope I’m not doing more damage to disc but it really is almost zero pain after this stretch, which is amazing. Thanks

  46. Hello! I saw your YouTube video and I was wondering what side I should glide for my bulge? Left or right? Here is my MRI report.

    Residual disc bulge and residual protruding disc in the
    left left) lateral recess at the L5-S1 level.

    Thanks so much!

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