I too have a bulging L5, and I have been dealing with this for about 5 years. I went to an Ortho and got an epidural and rested it for 3 weeks. I then got a killer PT who gave me a regimen of back exercises (planks, crunches, etc.), and was told it would get better after "time." 6-8 months later, I couldn't tell much difference. 10-12 months later I had the problem controlled and am still relatively pain free. The doctor said I have to do these exercises every day forever and no problem with the back, and if I quit the problem will come right back and require surgery. I stick with the program and I maintain my active lifestyle, although standing still hurts it more than anything. I do Whitney in a day-no problem with my back. I stand still for 20 minutes at a meeting and I have pain (which exercises then alleviates). Also, I have not thrown my back out since.