Spinal stenosis exercises are designed to improve the strength, range of motion and flexibility of your body and spine, which may help to reduce your spinal stenosis symptoms of pain, numbness, stiffness or tingling. There are all sorts of exercises that may be recommended, however, so it’s important to research your options and choose ones that will provide you with the most benefit.
If you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis – or if you suspect that you have spinal stenosis or another degenerative spinal condition – check with your physician before attempting to engage in any exercises. Embarking on an exercise program before consulting a physician can possibly make your symptoms worse. On the other hand, avoiding exercise altogether can aggravate spinal stenosis symptoms as well, so it’s important to be under the care of a physician and physical therapist who can guide you through an appropriate exercise program.
Exercises or physical therapy that are aimed at reducing the symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- Low-impact aerobic exercises, including walking, swimming, bicycling or water aerobics.
- Yoga, which involves stretching, balancing, breathing and relaxing.
- Specific stretching exercises recommended by a physician or physical therapist that address your specific case of spinal stenosis, whether it is cervical spinal stenosis (situated in the neck), or lumbar spinal stenosis (located in the lower back region).
Low-impact exercises are often recommended because they involve smooth and gradual motion, as opposed to the jarring contact experienced in exercises like jogging and running, which could cause further injury to the spinal column. When you swim, bicycle and walk, you are treating your body to gentle stretching and strengthening exercises for your neck and back. Plus, you get an added benefit of cardiovascular exercise, which is good for your heart, lungs and weight control.
For cases of mild spinal stenosis or even moderate spinal stenosis, these exercises – combined with other conservative spinal stenosis treatments such as over-the-counter medications, hot/cold therapy and wearing a neck or back brace – may alleviate or eliminate symptoms altogether, precluding the need for surgery.
But, if you have severe spinal stenosis and your symptoms are restricting your lifestyle, your physician may recommend epidural steroidal injections or traditional open back surgery. Surgery is sometimes necessary to remove material such as bone spurs or herniated discs that are putting pressure on the nerve roots in your spinal canal.
For more details about spinal stenosis and what exercises and treatments may be right for you, visit our spinal stenosis treatments page. If exercises and other conservative treatments do not alleviate your spinal stenosis symptoms and your physician wants you to consider open back surgery, you also can think about the minimally invasive procedures offered by Laser Spine Institute as an alternative. Contact Laser Spine Institute today for a review of your MRI or CT scan. We will be happy to discuss your condition and your options.