Spinal stenosis can be a painful condition that leaves you with less mobility. This may mean that you can’t engage in your hobbies as much as you once did or keep up with your children or grandchildren.
You may feel like you’re missing out on life, and it might look like your only option is spinal stenosis surgery. Spinal surgery may not be appealing, though it can help. Fortunately, there are some basic stretches that may be all you need to restore mobility and reduce pain.
What Is Spinal Stenosis?
Before we get into these stretches, it’s important to understand what spinal stenosis is. This condition occurs when the spaces in the spine start to narrow. This narrowing puts extra pressure on the nerves located in the spine, resulting in pain, numbness, and weakness in the muscles.
For many people, the pain increases over time. For others, however, they may have little to no pain. Some people who have spinal stenosis actually don’t realize they are dealing with the condition or may live with it for years before experiencing symptoms.
There are two types of spinal stenosis. Cervical stenosis affects the upper spine located in the neck. Lumbar stenosis affects the lower back and is more common.
Most of these exercises help with lumbar stenosis. Let’s take a look at some of these exercises.
Lumbar flexion exercises can be done in several ways. The first and easiest type of lumbar flexion. There are two different ways to do a standard flexion. The first is to simply bend over and touch your toes or the floor. Hold that position for a few seconds before standing up again, repeating it up to ten times.
The second option is to bend backward while supporting your back. Make sure your feet are about shoulder-width apart and then slowly bend backwards as far as you can. Hold that position for about a minute. You may find that the pain or numbness gets worse for about a minute before getting better. If it doesn’t, discontinue this exercise.
Another option is to lie on your back and pull your knees to your chest. Once you’ve done that, hold your knees with your hands for two seconds, then lower your feet back to the floor. Repeat this exercise ten times. You can also do a seating lumbar flexion where, while seated on a chair, you reach down and place your hands on the floor. Again, hold the position for two seconds and repeat ten times.
Strengthen Your Core and Hips
To boost your mobility, you may also need to strengthen the muscles around your spine that help support it. Exercises that help your hips and core are great for this.
A pelvic tilt, for example, will help with your core. To do this, lie on your back and bend your knees. Roll your pelvis back and hold the position for about three seconds, then repeat. Do this ten times per session.
Straight leg raises are another way of helping improve your hips and core. Just lie on your back and raise one leg, lower it, and repeat with the other leg.
Keep Your Activity Level Up
It’s natural to decrease the amount of activity you do when you start to hurt or when your mobility becomes impaired. However, doing so will actually make your spinal stenosis worse. You need to continue exercising or doing an activity as much as possible. Walking will help, as will bicycling.
If you do find your normal routine is becoming too much, come talk to one of the experts here at AICA Orthopedics. We will work with you to create an exercise program that isn’t too overwhelming while also helping you improve your spinal support and reduce the pain from spinal stenosis. Contact us today to make an appointment.