Can I Go Skiing With Herniated Discs?

skiing with herniated disc

A herniated disc can be an excruciating and debilitating injury. If you are an avid skier, you may wonder if you can ski with a herniated disc.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to go skiing for over a year. Once you have received treatment and your pain is under control, you can start to think about getting back on the slopes.

Let’s look at when you can go skiing with herniated discs and how it will affect skiing. Plus, I’ll share some tips and precautions when the time has come to go skiing. 

Can You Ski With A Herniated Disk?

A herniated disc can happen anywhere in the spine and is often painful. Patients with a herniated disc are normally advised to maintain a low activity level. 

Generally people with a herniated disc should not ski because it will worsen the pain and cause further damage. However it depends on the disc displacement, pain level, and tolerance level which varies from person to person. I have heard about people skiing with herniated discs and even seen some people experience it during skiing. 

Can You Ski With A Herniated Disk

If you are suffering from herniated disc pain, your priority must be healing it first. The time it takes to heal depends on the size of the herniation of the disc. Most of the time, a herniated disc might heal on its own, for example lumbar discs would take 5 to 22 months to fully heal

Unlike skiing with a sprained ankle, if you have a lumbar or lower back disk, you will not be able to go skiing for around 1.5 years until it fully heals. If the herniation is severe, the patient will also have to go for surgical treatment and the healing time will be extended more. 

Medics recommend avoiding highly physically demanding activities and maintaining a good posture for disk displacement or herniation. So skiing, where your core muscles are used to keep the body in the correct form while applying a considerable strain on your discs, is not a good choice. After your discs heal completely you can get back to the slopes but under safety precautions. 

Tips For Skiing With A Herniated Disc

Even after your disk herniation is healed, you should take precautions when skiing. Here are some tips and precautions for getting ready and when skiing.

Exercise Before You Go Skiing

Exercise Before You Go Skiing

You should start exercising at least six weeks before you go skiing. If your disc herniation was a critical one you should follow a workout plan a few months before skiing. Here are some exercises you could do –

The book opener stretch and the thoracic spine twist

  • These steps increase the mobility of your thoracic spine. It will be helpful for skiing with a herniated disk as the movement of discs becomes easier.

Strengthen hamstrings and glutes

  • They help to strengthen your lower posterior chain. These should be followed before the ski session. When you ski, your lumbar paraspinals will be hit. So making the back extensors stronger is a must. 

Work on deep core muscles

  • The obliques and deep core muscles help balance your body when skiing. If the core muscles cannot support it properly,the back muscles will be overworked. To strengthen the core muscles you do something like planks.  

Use Back Supporting Gear

You should wear protective gear when you go skiing such as back protectors and back supporters or lumbar support belts or even compression shirts. 

These will protect your spine against sudden jolts and impacts relieve any pain. However these might be uncomfortable to wear.

Train If You Are A Beginner

If you are a beginner, learn the techniques before you try them and get the instructions of your physician throughout the process. And if possible, please hire a ski instructor when you ski. (Read about how much you should tip ski instructors here).  

Skiing Style

If you have a herniated disc, Pelvic neutral is the best style to ski. Skiing in the neutral position of your lower back will help reduce any pain that skiing could cause. You have to release your muscles in the lower back and bend a little down while skiing which will reduce the strain on your spine. Do not ski on the backseat. 

pelvic netural skiing for herinated disc

Avoid Rotating Around The Pelvis

Do not rotate around the hip joints while skiing. Avoid twisting your lower back as much as possible. Because too much pressure on lower back muscles is bad for herniated discs.

Being Relaxed And Hydrated

Skiing requires high physical as well as mental health. It would be best to strengthen your mental attitude while preparing for these physical safety measurements. Do not hurry to make moves, and let them be natural. And as always, DRINK LOTS OF WATER!


Skiing is an extreme sport. It tests your mental and physical limits. And it is more risky and challenging than an average sport. It is not just surfing on snow. It is all about sliding with style and managing your whole body to ski with you. Each muscle of yours must do skiing. 

Due to the risks skiing carries, you should be very healthy. But being injured with a herniated disc is not a reason for you to stop skiing. Dealing with a herniated disc is painful yet recoverable.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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