The narrowing of spaces around the spinal cord that’s characteristic of spinal stenosis isn’t always serious enough to require a procedure such as coflex surgery. Los Angeles patients often find regular exercise can relieve symptoms associated with spinal narrowing. Here’s a closer look at some of the best exercises that may be effective for you if you’re living with spinal stenosis.
Walking is a good exercise for spinal stenosis because it can be done at any pace that’s right for you. This low-impact activity can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. Even a 20–30-minute stroll during your lunch break can be good for your spine. As an added bonus, walking also increases the body’s production of certain chemicals called endorphins that naturally ease pain. When you walk, make sure to:
• Watch your posture so your spinal alignment remains neutral
• Stick to smooth, flat surfaces as much as possible
• Keep your arms at your sides to maintain your balance
Biking and cycling can be effective forms of exercise for people with spinal stenosis, since the forward bending can open up areas within the spine. Before you get started, make sure your seat and handlebars are correctly aligned so you’re not overstressing your spine.
Swimming is a fun and effective form of exercise that can target all the spine-supporting muscle groups. Just avoid any strokes that are a bit too stressful for the area of your spine that’s affected by abnormal narrowing. For instance, the butterfly and breaststroke tend to place a greater load and stress on the lower back. If you swim in a heated pool, the added warmth could soothe the areas of your back affected by spinal stenosis.
You may also benefit from other water-based activities that can stimulate the same muscle groups in a gentle way. Options include:
• Water yoga or Pilates*
• Aquatic therapy that includes a combination of water-based movements
• Water aerobics
• Water walking
*Yoga or Pilates performed on land could also be a good form of exercise if you have spinal stenosis, since the movements are controlled and slow.
Stretching is important for anyone who regularly exercises, and it’s especially critical to incorporate stretching into your fitness routine if you have spinal stenosis. The type of stretching you do will depend on which area of your spine is affected. If it happens to be your lower back, you may benefit from lumbar flexion stretches. Stretches of this nature involve bending forward, which opens the spine and eases pressure on spinal nerves. Other stretching options that could achieve the same goal include:
• Standing toe touches
• Seated forward bends, reaching down as far as you can comfortably go
• Lumbar flexion performed as you rest on your back and bring your knees forward toward your chest
Before you start any type of exercise routine, talk to your Los Angeles spine surgeon to make sure it’s safe for you. If you’re given the green light to exercise as part of your efforts to manage spinal stenosis symptoms, listen to your body and take a break if you notice an uptick in your discomfort. Also, avoid forms of exercise that may be too strenuous for your spine, such as contact sports or weightlifting.
If you have back pain you suspect may be due to spinal stenosis, call on the spinal health specialists at The Spine Institute. Our industry-leading physicians are pioneers in the use of innovative methods and cutting-edge technology to diagnose and alleviate neck and back pain. To schedule a consultation, call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757.