Exercising with foraminal stenosis — what to consider and what to avoid

Exercise is often an important component of a foraminal stenosis treatment plan. Maintaining good cardiovascular function, muscle tone and flexibility can all help enhance the recovery process. These enhancements can be even more important for individuals who are trying to lose weight or improve their lifestyles as instructed by their physicians.

With that said, not all types of exercise are appropriate for individuals who have foraminal narrowing (stenosis). Some physical activities even have the potential to make existing neck and back problems worse. Choosing the right workout program for your needs is crucial if you’ve been diagnosed with foraminal stenosis.

Low-impact activities are often the most appropriate

As a general rule of thumb, high-impact, high-stress activities should be avoided by individuals who are diagnosed with spinal narrowing. These include contact sports such as football and hockey, long-distance running and any activity that involves repetitive bending or twisting motions. Because these activities have the potential to place the spine under a great deal of stress, it’s typically advisable to avoid them unless a physician specifically indicates otherwise.

Low-impact activities, on the other hand, tend to be the most appropriate for individuals who have spinal narrowing. Some options include:

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Water aerobics
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Light weight training

Working with a professional

Some exercises require a few modifications to accommodate foraminal stenosis. As a result, it can be highly beneficial to work with an experienced professional, at least for the first few weeks or months. A professional trainer or exercise physiologist can provide individualized guidance and advice, and a physical therapist can recommend stretching and strengthening exercises that are tailored to a patient’s specific recovery goals.

While many individuals are able to control their foraminal stenosis symptoms with exercise, medications, lifestyle modifications and other nonsurgical options, there are some instances in which surgery becomes a consideration. For instance, if a person’s foraminal stenosis makes walking, driving or participating in simple hobbies too difficult, an operation might be a potential treatment option.

At Laser Spine Institute, we perform minimally invasive surgery for foraminal stenosis. To learn more about our outpatient alternatives to open neck and back surgery, contact us today.