Spinal Stenosis Exercises

by admin on August 14, 2010

Spinal Stenosis Exercises

For many individuals, simple exercises for spinal stenosis can help alleviate some of the pain associated with spinal stenosis conditions. Whether you suffer from cervical or lumbar spinal stenosis and depending upon the severity of your condition (make sure you check with your doctor prior to doing any exercises) simple flexion exercises (forward bending) may be right for you.

It is important to maintain a strong back to avoid pain and slow the degenerative process which eventually leads to some type of spinal stenosis treatment. There are two groups of exercises in which a strong back can be attained and maintained:

  • Flexibility – lengthening of muscles over time through exercises such as pilates, yoga or stretching
  • Strengthening – through repetition of muscle groups the back becomes stronger over time. Lifting weights, pilates, planks and other repetitious exercises are all examples of strengthening

By increasing muscle tone, especially in the abdominal core, the body will end up with a more stable spine. In addition, leg strengthening exercises make proper lifting easier which will help prevent back injuries and promote a healthy spine.

The following exercises can be completed three times per week once your doctor okays the program

Curl Ups

Curl Ups

Curl Up - Reference My Pelvic Floor

Curl ups are a technique which involves the person lying down on their back with arms at side. Next, the patient bends his or her knees slightly and tilts their pelvis up until the back is flat on the floor. While in this position the person lifts their head and shoulders until the shoulder blades clear the floor – for a 5 second count. Repeat 10 times.

Oblique Trunk Raises

This spinal stenosis treatment exercise involves lying down on the floor with arms at side and the knees are slightly bent. Next, the patient reaches with one hand toward the opposing knee, slightly raising their shoulder off the floor – hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.


Prone Trunk Raises

While laying face down on the floor with arms at sides, tighten buttock muscles and raise head and shoulders up from the floor to a level that is comfortable – hold for 5 seconds and do 10 repetitions.

Alternating Leg & Arm Lift

Alternating Leg & Arm Lift - Reference Health & Fitness Blog

Alternating leg and arm lift

Once again in the prone position (laying face down arms at side) place a rolled up towel under forehead. Then place a pillow under your pelvis and abdomen. Next, keep your right knee straight and lift your leg about an inch off the floor, at the same time lift your left arm – hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times alternating legs and arms.
In addition to the previous mentioned exercises, Flexion exercises create room in the spinal canal allowing irritated nerves room to decompress, in turn, relieving the pain associated with spinal stenosis.

Spinal Stenosis Flexibility Exercises

By stretching a person can attain more flexibility, and the more flexible a person is, the more range of motion they will achieve. Normal spine movement and range of motion is dependent upon normal levels of flexibility around the pelvis and lumbar spine. If the range of motion is normal, this results in a decrease in injury risk by preventing abnormal forces on joints within the spinal column. An energetic and vigorous workout regime puts a lot of force on joints and muscles. It is therefore recommended to stretch your muscles prior to

Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Stretch - Reference Precision Nutrition

working out. This prepares the body for a routine workout and helps decrease the risk of injury. It is recommended that each stretch exercise be completed slowly without rapid jerks or bounces.

Stretching the Hamstring

To begin, lie down on your back, raise one leg and pull it towards your chest by placing your hands behind your thigh, while your thigh is brought towards your chest, raise your leg as straight as possible – hold this stretch 15 – 20 seconds. Release and repeat on the other side for 3 repetitions total per side.

Double Knee to Chest

Begin by lying down on your back, place both hands behind your thighs and slowly draw them towards your chest until you feel a stretch in your lumbar spine (lower back) – hold this position for 5-7 seconds and repeat 5 times with small breaks in between.

Double Knee to Chest

Double Knee to Chest

What to do if you feel pain during Spinal Stenosis Exercises

If you notice an increase in pain in your legs while doing any of these exercises make sure not to ignore it. Immediately stop the exercise activity and contact your health care provider for advice.

The fact is that not everyone will feel relief from spinal stenosis exercises and stretches. For many degeneration of the spine has already set in or some other condition attributing to spinal stenosis (like a bone spur) gets in the way of relief. At this point one must make a choice to either deal with the back or neck pain or move to a more aggressive therapy than exercises.

In our next blog we will discuss spinal stenosis treatment options beyond stretching and exercises.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Luciano Freibert August 30, 2010 at 3:52 am

Located your blog via msn the other day and absolutely adore it. Continue the truly great work.

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Jennifer Styma November 2, 2010 at 6:34 pm

I found this blog post (in addition to the entire website) to be very thorough, user-friendly, and helpful. I also found the DVD and exercise kit recommendations very useful.

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Mike Whalen November 3, 2010 at 7:22 am

I find that stretching before I get out of bed in the AM affords me the best relief all day for my Spinal Stenosis.
I start with the double knee to the chest stretch for 20 sec. then while still holding my knees up I roll to one side and hold it for 30 sec then back to the center for another 20 sec, then roll to the other side and hold it for 30 sec, then back to the center again for another 20 sec. for a total of 2 min. I then release the knees and relax for about 20 sec.
Finally I raise just one leg at a time and hold it in the same way for 30 sec on each leg. Then relax again for 20 sec. Then I roll out of bed and begin my day.
I find this is stretch exercise is best performed first thing in the AM and on a bed because if you do it on the hard floor you will tend to roll over to much when you go to the right & left side while holding both legs up. If you find yourself experiencing some leg pain any time during the day you can perform this stretch exercise again to relieve it.
Give it a try!

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Jacquelyn December 6, 2010 at 11:05 am

Do you have any excercises for after lumbar stenosis surgery. My surgery was 8 months ago and I have to rebuild my muscles.

Thank you.

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Charles Taylor July 19, 2011 at 4:28 am

Thanks. Your site is clear and offers what it says, not a lot of ads for surgery.

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hary leibler May 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I am taking epordoral shots…I had 2 all of a sudden my feet became very very heavy,, I find it hard to walk….should I trying walking excercises of just walk alot more..what can of exercises can I try

thank you

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