Spinal stenosis exercises are aimed at improving the strength, range of motion, and flexibility of your body and spine, which may help to reduce your symptoms of pain, numbness, stiffness, or tingling.
If you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis – or if you suspect that you have spinal stenosis or another spinal condition – check with your doctor before attempting to engage in any exercises. Embarking on an exercise program before consulting a doctor 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 aimed at reducing the symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- Low-impact aerobic exercises, including walking, swimming, bicycling, or water aerobics
- Yoga, which involves stretching, 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 region of the spinal column, 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 “pounding” 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 back and neck. 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 back or neck brace – may alleviate or eliminate symptoms altogether.
But, if you have severe spinal stenosis and your symptoms are completely 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 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 doctor wants you to consider open-back surgery, you also can think about the minimally invasive endoscopic procedures offered by Laser Spine Institute. Contact LSI today for a free review of your MRI or CT scan. We will be happy to discuss your condition and your options.