Spinal stenosis exercises
Spinal stenosis exercises are designed to improve your strength, range of motion and flexibility, which may help to reduce debilitating symptoms of pain, numbness, stiffness or tingling. There are a variety of recommended exercises, however, so it’s important to research your options and choose a plan that will provide 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 — work with your doctor to create an exercise program to treat your pain. Strenuous movement can possibly make symptoms worse, so partnering with a medical professional is the safest choice. This is because avoiding activity altogether can also worsen spinal stenosis symptoms, so professional guidance can be helpful to find the middle ground.
The best exercise choices for stenosis
Exercises or physical therapy aimed at reducing the symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- Low-impact aerobic exercises, like walking, swimming, bicycling or water aerobics
- Yoga, which involves stretching, balancing, breathing and relaxing
- Physical therapy exercises specifically designed to stretch and strengthen the affected region
Low-impact spinal stenosis exercises are often recommended because they involve smoother motion compared to a higher-impact exercise, like running, which could cause further injury to the spinal column. Swimming, bicycling and walking put less force on the joints of your neck and back while strengthening muscles and connective tissue. You can also improve your cardiovascular system, which is good for your heart, lungs and weight.
For cases of mild or even moderate spinal stenosis, these exercises — combined with other physician-prescribed conservative treatments like over-the-counter medications, hot/cold therapy and wearing a brace — are highly effective at reducing chronic pain. In fact, many patients find lasting relief, and a return to a normal quality of life, without needing to pursue surgery.
If exercise therapy is not effective
If you have moderate to severe spinal stenosis and pain is still keeping you away from loved ones, work and hobbies, despite completing rounds of conservative treatments like exercise, then your physician may recommend surgery. Surgery is sometimes necessary to remove material such as bone spurs or disc material that is narrowing the spinal canal and compressing nerves.
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 consider the minimally invasive procedures offered by Laser Spine Institute as a safer and effective alternative. Contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost review* of your MRI. We will be happy to discuss your condition and whether you are a candidate for our procedures.