This article is reviewed, corrected, and approved by: Dr. Benjamin McLean M.D. | FCPS | FRCP | MPH

Tarlov cysts, which are fluid-filled sacs that develop on nerve roots within the spinal cord, often exist imperceptibly but can cause discomfort and pain. These cysts are commonly situated in the sacrococcygeal region and can manifest a wide range of symptoms, including pain, numbness, and weakness in the lower back and legs. 

In this guide, I'll explain what Tarlov cysts are, how they affect the spine, and discuss the exercises to avoid. Also, try to provide recommendations for safe and beneficial workouts, emphasizing the importance of personalized care and guidance from professionals.

What is Tarlov Cysts?

Living with Tarlov cysts presents unique challenges when it comes to physical activity. Exercise is important for overall health, but it's crucial to be cautious to avoid making symptoms worse. 

They often don't cause any symptoms, but they can lead to pain, weakness, and other neurological issues. These cysts typically develop in the lower back and pelvic area. Understanding Tarlov cysts is important for creating an exercise routine that promotes well-being without causing further problems.

The Role of Exercise for Tarlov Cyst

Exercise is important for a healthy lifestyle, but for people with Tarlov cysts, it needs to be approached carefully. Regular physical activity can improve circulation, reduce stress, and enhance overall quality of life. 

However, certain exercises can make symptoms worse and cause more discomfort. Before starting any exercise program need to seek guidance based on your condition.

Exercises to Avoid with Tarlov Cysts

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

High-impact activities

A girl performing high impact exercise like trampoline jumping. Credits: ReviewsFellas©

Activities like jumping, running, and high-intensity aerobics may seem invigorating, but for those with Tarlov cysts, they can be problematic. These exercises exert excessive stress on the lower back and sacrococcygeal area, potentially aggravating the cysts.

Instead, opt for low-impact alternatives such as swimming, cycling, and walking. These activities provide cardiovascular benefits without the jarring impact on the spine.

Movements that involve repeated flexion and extension of the spine

Sit-ups and toe touches can compress the cysts and should be approached with caution. 

Heavy weightlifting and resistance training

A man lifting up a kettlebell. Credits: ReviewsFellas©

Lifting heavy objects or engaging in strenuous activities can increase pressure on the spine, worsening Tarlov cyst symptoms. Weightlifting and exercises like deadlifts should be avoided. Instead, focus on maintaining a balance between strength and flexibility through moderate resistance training and bodyweight exercises.

Long time sitting or standing

A person suffering from back pain due to long time sitting. Credits: ReviewsFellas©

Sitting or standing for long periods can increase discomfort for those with Tarlov cysts. It's important to incorporate regular movement and breaks into your daily routine to avoid aggravating symptoms.

It can also cause tight muscles and back pain. To learn more, read: How Can Tight Muscles Result In Back Pain? Facts Revealed

Exercises Involving Twisting or Bending

Twisting and bending movements can strain the nerve roots affected by Tarlov cysts, intensifying pain and discomfort. Yoga poses that involve deep twists, sit-ups, and crunches fall into this category and should be approached with caution. Instead, consider exercises that promote flexibility without compromising the stability of the spine, such as gentle stretches and controlled movements.

Living with tarlov cyst not so hard if you maintain proper instruction. Here are some safe exercises that can benefit individuals with Tarlov cysts:

  • Low-impact cardiovascular activities: Swimming, water aerobics, and stationary cycling provide excellent cardiovascular benefits without putting stress on the spine.
  • Core-stabilizing exercises: Pelvic tilts, bridges, and gentle yoga poses strengthen the core muscles, providing stability and support for the lower back.
  • Flexibility and stretching exercises: Modified hamstring stretches and cat-cow stretches improve flexibility without putting pressure on the spine.
  • Core Exercises Targeting the Lower Back: While strengthening the core is essential, an excessive focus on the lower back muscles can exacerbate Tarlov cyst symptoms. Instead of solely targeting the lower back, prioritize core exercises that engage the entire core, including the abdominal muscles.
  • Consultation with a physical therapist: A experienced therapist can design a personalized exercise program that addresses your specific needs and limitations. Regular monitoring and adjustments to the routine are important for optimal results.

To manage Tarlov cysts effectively, focus on a careful exercise routine that reduces symptom worsening.

General Guidelines for Safe Exercise

Engaging in the wrong exercises can worsen Tarlov cyst symptoms by putting undue stress on the affected nerve roots. By understanding which activities to avoid, individuals can protect their nerve function and minimize pain. Let's delve into specific exercises that may do more harm than good.

To exercise safely with Tarlov cysts, follow these guidelines:

  1. Listen to your body's signals is tarlov cyst natural treatment.
  2. You can start by gradually and increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts.
  3. Need to follow tarlov cyst diet recommended by professional.
  4. Regularly follow up with healthcare professionals.
  5. Remember that everyone's condition is unique, so a personalized approach is necessary for positive outcomes.

Final Thoughts 

In the journey of managing Tarlov cysts, exercise becomes a delicate dance between maintaining fitness and protecting nerve function. It's also important to approach exercise thoughtfully. By understanding the nature and impact of the cysts, avoiding certain exercises, and embracing safe alternatives, you can minimize the risk of symptom worsening. 

Consulting with doctors and following their guidance ensures that exercise becomes a valuable tool in managing Tarlov cysts and promoting overall well-being.

Remember, your health is main priority. And altered approach to exercise will contribute to a healthier and more fulfilling life despite the challenges posed by Tarlov cysts.


Question 1: A Spinal cyst, how serious is it?

Spinal cysts can vary in severity. Some may not cause noticeable problems, while others can compress nerves or the spinal cord, requiring medical attention. It's best to get evaluated by a neurologist, neurosurgeon, or pain management specialist for your cyst and overall health.

What is the estimated cost range for Tarlov cyst surgery in US?

The cost of Tarlov cyst surgery in the US can fluctuate based on several variables, such as the surgeon's expertise, the cyst's location, and the severity of symptoms. However, estimated costs typically range between $50,000 and $100,000.