Lumbar spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal and neural foramen—the spaces that enclose the spinal cord and exiting nerve roots. The more these structures narrow, the more constricted the nerves in the spinal cord become, which causes discomfort or, depending on how much the narrowing has progressed, radiating pain.
If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of people suffering from lumbar spinal stenosis, you may be looking for some relief. Advanced lumbar spinal stenosis may require surgery, but mild to moderate stenosis symptoms can often be managed with some type of conservative care. Keep in mind, however, that stenosis is an anatomical problem—which means no conservative treatment will prevent future deterioration. And even for people with mild stenosis, such treatment options won’t be effective for everyone.
If your low back pain requires surgery, find out about an innovative new procedure that may be better—and more effective short- and long-term—than fusion.
Staying active can also help keep the pain at bay. Stenosis tends to affect balance, so walking helps promote stability and build up leg muscles. Some alternate forms of exercise may also be useful, particularly those that strengthen your core and help you better control your spine. There are several websites with spinal stenosis exercises that may be useful; some of them are listed below.
Best Sites For Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Exercises
SpineUniverse offers a video series showing three back stretches and exercises specifically for spinal stenosis. The videos explain how flexion exercises (those where you arch your back) will help open up space in your spinal cord and relieve pressure on the nerves. Take a look, too, at its videos for exercises that promote general back health.
Spine-health.com publishes numerous useful resources related to back and neck pain. It lists a variety of effective exercises for lumbar spinal stenosis and a video showing exercises that can help ease sciatica caused by spinal stenosis. You’ll also find some neck strengthening exercises for cervical spinal stenosis.
WebMD offers exercises that may help relieve symptoms of spinal stenosis; you can also watch a video showing good stretching techniques that reduce stress on the joints. And although the benefits of physical therapy for stenosis may be marginal, the site does list some therapy techniques to try.
4. Kenai Spine
This spine center in Alaska includes a wealth of information about spine problems and treatments. It also offers educational resources related to exercise and pain relief, including neck exercises that are appropriate for patients with cervical spinal stenosis. You can also find more information about treatment options for lumbar spinal stenosis on this site.
Note that all of these exercises should be done only after consulting your doctor, who may have specific recommendations about what would be best for you. Any exercise that puts too much stress on your spine should be avoided. Once you do find exercises for lumbar stenosis that work well for you, I recommend starting a daily routine. If your pain increases to a point where you feel it’s interfering with your life, it may be time to talk with your doctor about next steps.