7 Exercises You Should Avoid If You Have Tarlov Cysts

Avoid a few exercises if you have Tarlov cysts.
Avoid a few exercises if you have Tarlov cysts.

Tarlov cysts are type II innervated meningeal cysts, cerebrospinal-fluid-filled (CSF) sacs. They are generally located in the spinal canal of the spinal cord's sacral region.

If you have these cysts, it's important to watch what you do with your back. Certain exercises can strain your lower back and lead to more pain. If that is the case, here are some tips on what exercises to avoid.

Exercises To Avoid If You Have Tarlov Cysts

Here are seven exercises to avoid if you have Tarlov cysts:

1) Contact Sports

Avoid contact sports. Avoid activities that involve repeated impact, sudden stops and starts, twisting, jumping, running or pivoting. These motions can aggravate the cysts, causing them to rupture.

While that may seem like a no-brainer for some, it's important to consider other factors as well. If your Tarlov cysts haven't been diagnosed yet, you'll want to be careful about how much exercise you do so that you don't aggravate them or cause an injury that could cause irreparable damage.


If your doctor has given the green light for exercise in general but not for contact sports in particular, it's up to you whether or not you want to engage in such sports. However, the rule of thumb is that you shouldn't engage in such sports, as they may put unnecessary strain on your lower back, which can exacerbate your injury.

2) High-Impact Activities

High-impact activities, such as running and jumping, are not recommended for people with Tarlov cysts. If you’re a runner, try walking instead. You can also use elliptical machines or stationary bikes to maintain your cardiovascular fitness.

If you love to hike and work up a sweat on the trails, try taking shorter hikes or avoiding steep terrain that puts more strain on your knees while walking. A brisk walk is always better than sitting around.

If you want to get back into yoga after being sidelined by Tarlov cysts, start with simple poses that don't require much effort from your legs (like seated forward bends). You may later move on to more advanced poses such as standing splits or balance poses like eagle pose (garudasana).

3) Lifting Weights

Weightlifting is a high-impact activity that can strain your back, knees and shoulders. It can also cause Tarlov Cysts to rupture.

The best way to avoid weightlifting is by sticking to low-impact exercises, such as cycling or swimming. If you do choose to lift weights, make sure you do so carefully and slowly so that there is little chance of injury.

4) Repetitive Exercises That Cause Strain

Don't do repetitive exercises that strain your back. The four main muscle groups that run along your spine are the erector spinae, multifidi, deep spinal rotators and quadratus lumborum.

If you have weak muscles in any of these areas, it can cause pain or discomfort in the lower back. Your first course of action should be to consult a doctor or physical therapist. They can assess whether you are ready for an exercise programme, what type of activity is best for you and how often you should be exercising. Try stretching with a foam roller.


5) Back Extensions

As back extensions are performed in a lying position with the legs bent, that can put stress on Tarlov cysts located in your posterior pelvic cavity. So it's recommended that you avoid performing back extensions if you have these cysts.

Additionally, performing back extensions can cause the Tarlov cysts to rupture or swell up due to excessive pressure on these muscles and nerves. That could also lead to bleeding.

6) Ab Crunch Machine

If you have Tarlov cysts, avoid the abdominal crunch exercise. This is an easy one to avoid; it's just a matter of not doing anything that involves lying on the floor and repeatedly flexing your waist muscles.

That includes sit-ups and planks and also more subtle movements, such as curling up into a ball or rolling onto your side from your back. Alternately, try planks or wall-sits. They might seem like tougher exercises to do, especially when you have Tarlov cysts, but they're actually good for you.

7) Lift Weights When You're On Your Back Or Shoulders

In general, it’s a good idea to avoid lifting weights while lying down. That is because the weight of the dumbbell or barbell can cause increased pressure on your lower back and hips, leading to more pain for those with Tarlov cysts.

If you absolutely must do this exercise, it's best to keep yourself upright so that the weight can be distributed across both legs instead of just one side at a time. Exercises like push-ups and dips are friendlier ones if you have Tarlov cysts.


We hope this article has given you some insight into exercises that can cause pain and discomfort for people with Tarlov cysts.

It's important to remember that everyone is different, so if you're unsure about whether or not an exercise is safe for you, consult your doctor or physical therapist.

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Edited by Bhargav
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