What are the Best Exercises for Spinal Stenosis?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 11 February 2020
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Spinal stenosis is a condition in which a person’s spinal canal narrows. This condition, which often develops in older people, causes compression of the spinal chord and nerves in the area. Exercising can’t cure spinal stenosis, but it can help increase flexibility and strengthen the back. Performing exercises for spinal stenosis can also help increase a person’s range of motion and stability. Exercising can be important for maintaining the ability to walk as the condition worsens.

There are many types of strengthening exercises for spinal stenosis patients. Strengthening exercises can be used to improve muscle tone and make the abdominal area stronger, which can help stabilize the spine. Strengthening the leg muscles can make using proper body mechanics easier when lifting and bending. This can improve overall back health and help to prevent injuries that could make stenosis pain worse.

Curls are among the best strengthening exercises for spinal stenosis. To perform them, a person lies on his back and positions his arms out to his sides. He then bends his knees just a little and presses his back flat against the floor beneath him. The exerciser then lifts his head off the floor, followed by his shoulder blades. Once his shoulder blades are off the floor, he holds this position for a few seconds before returning to the starting position and repeating the exercise several times.


Another strengthening exercise for spinal stenosis is the trunk raise. To perform this exercise, a person lies face down on the floor, with his arms at his sides. He then tightens his buttock muscles and raises both his head and shoulders off the ground. The exerciser is supposed to stop when he cannot move up any farther without discomfort, remaining in this position for a few seconds. He then returns to the starting position and repeats the exercise several times.

Flexibility exercises help stenosis patients stay mobile and flexible. With higher flexibility, a person’s spine can move as it should, and there is less likelihood that pressure on the joints will cause injury. Stretches should be performed using slow movements and without bouncing.

One of the best flexibility exercises for spinal stenosis is the hamstring stretch. To perform it, a person lies flat on his back and raises one of his legs. While holding the back of the raised thigh with his hands, the exerciser straightens his knee until he feels a stretch in his thigh. He then holds the stretch for about 20 seconds before returning to the starting position. An exerciser may perform this stretch a few times on each leg.

A standing backward bend is another flexibility exercise for spinal stenosis. To perform it, the exerciser stands with his back straight and his hands on his hips. He then bends backward until he feels a gentle stretch, being careful not to fall over. He remains in this stretched position for about five seconds before returning to the starting position and repeating the stretch a few times.

Though exercise is generally good for patients with this condition, they should not begin exercising without seeking a doctor’s approval first. If exercise causes pain, the exerciser should stop and let a doctor know. Taking these steps may help the exerciser avoid injury.


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