Recently I had an MRI done only to discover my lower back pain was d/t an l5-s1 disc herniation, and l2, l3, l4 posterior disc bulges; the l5-s1 herniation just so happened to be impinging a nearby nerve. I have had (for about a month) radiating pain from my r lower back to the buttocks, and my lateral right leg, which extends to my medial calf. My l5 disc shows some wear, and is 'flat'. I believe most of these injuries I have sustained are from improper lifting earlier in my weight training days when I was lifting with my ego. I believe most of my injuries come from improper deadlifting with heavy loads, as well as rounding my back on heavy one-leg 45 degree leg presses (silly me). Now, having perfecting my form, I still find I experience pain/soreness with exercises such as deadlifts (conventional, stiff-leg), good mornings, barbell squats, hyperextensions, and any ab exercises. I tend to still use heavy loads with most of my exercises, but for the past 2 weeks I have halted on any deadlifts or squats.
With that being said, I have come to this forum to seek exercises that will allow me to strengthen and build muscle in my lower half, without compromising my bulges, herniation, or integrity of my lumbar spine in it's entirety. I've considered implementing leg extensions, leg curls and horizontal leg presses into my leg program. I have a few questions which i'd like you folks to consider; Should I discontinue exercises such as barbell shrugs, and seated military presses? Does the load transfer to the spine? Regarding horizontal leg presses, with stable hips, will my lumbar spine be susceptible to further injury? Will continuing any exercises that irritate the impinged nerve, such leg extensions, have a potential for nerve damage? Any suggestions? Comments? Advice? Thank you for your time, and patience with my sob story.