Spinal Stenosis Exercises

Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the vertebrae of the spinal column becomes narrow and starts putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. You may develop this condition in your lower back or in the neck. There are different treatment options available to deal with your pain, and one of them is to try some spinal stenosis exercises. The idea of exercising does not appeal to many, especially when you are already in pain. However,what you should understand is that exercises can actually help relieve spinal stenosis pain.

Aerobic Exercises

It definitely sounds quite counterintuitive to exercise when you find it difficult to bend due to spinal stenosis pain. But the truth is that correctly performed movement, stretching, and exercise can help make your condition a lot more manageable.

It is important to talk to your doctor before you try any new exercise for spinal stenosis. Your doctor will confirm if you can safely perform certain exercises or not. Moreover, it is important to avoid any activity that aggravate your pain or simply puts too much pressure on your spine. You should also stop doing any exercise if it is making your pain worse or produces other symptoms.

Here are some good suggestions for you to consider when looking for the best spinal stenosis exercises:

  • Walking: you can stick to walking if you have spinal stenosis because it is a low-impact exercise and you are always in full control of what you are doing. Be sure to walk daily even if that is for a few minutes only.
  • Swimming: you may also consider swimming when you have spinal stenosis because it uses all your back muscles without causing much stress. The water provides a safe environment by supporting your weight.
  • Water walking: this is an ideal spinal stenosis exercises for people who cannot do other exercises. You will be able to get a good range of motion due to the buoyancy of the water.
  • Tai Chi: you may consider taking a Tai Chi class to learn how to move your body in a slow yet flowing way. This helps treat your spinal stenosis.

Stretching Exercises

Just like aerobic exercises, there are a number of stretching exercises for spinal stenosis. Gently stretches help a lot in relieving the pressure from your nerves, since spinal stenosis narrows the space for your nerve roots to go through and stretching opens up the space. You will get more benefits for doing flexion exercises that make you round your back. Here are some nice suggestions, but be sure to start slowly, especially if you have not exercised in a while. Then gradually increase your session time to 30 minutes, 3 times each week.

Pelvic Tilt

  • Lie on your back and keep your knees bent up.
  • Now, try to squeeze your stomach as if you are trying to pull your bellybutton towards your spine.
  • Make sure that your pelvis automatically rolls up a bit towards your chest as you pull your bellybutton down towards the floor.

Back Flexion

  • Start by lying on the floor and pulling your knees to your chest.
  • Keep pulling your knees until you feel a light stretch. Hold your position.
  • Slowly return to your normal position after 30 seconds.
  • Do it at least 4-6 times.

Lower Back Arch

  • It is among the best spinal stenosis exercises that start by getting on all fours.
  • Make sure to keep your hands right under your shoulders with your knees under your hips.
  • Slowly arch your lower and upper back like a cat. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
  • Avoid it if you have a slipped disc.

Child Pose

  • Start by getting on your hands and knees.
  • Slowly extend your arms in front of you while sitting back on to your heels.
  • Keep your neck down all the time and hold this posture for 30 seconds.
  • Do 3 sets.

Lunge Pose

  • Start by getting down on your knees and then extending one leg forward.
  • Keep one leg back and the other in front with knee bent at 90 degrees.
  • Hold your position for 30 seconds when you feel a nice stretch in the front part of your hip.
  • Perform 3 sets.

Strengthening Exercises

It is a good idea to include some strengthening into your spinal stenosis exercises to improve your posture. These exercises do not make your condition better but make it relatively easier to hold a posterior pelvic tilt while walking or standing.

Hook-Lying March

  • Lie on your back and keep your knees bent up into the hook-lying position.
  • Slowly raise your alternate legs 4 inches from the floor.
  • March in the same fashion for up to 30 seconds. Have 30 seconds break in between repetitions.


  • Fold your arms across your chest and keep your back flat by tightening your lower abs.
  • Now, slowly raise your shoulders and head from the floor and hold that position for 2-4 seconds.
  • Return to your starting position and do another set.

The Chair Squat

  • Stand in a comfortable position with your back to the chair.
  • Keep your feet at a shoulder-width apart with your knees turned out a bit.
  • Keep your lower back arched and stick out your butt as far as possible.
  • Lower your hips and touch the chair.
  • Return to your starting position.
  • Do 3 sets with 10 reps each.

Single-Leg Squat

  • Stand near a wall for support in case you lose your balance, and lift your one leg up.
  • Extend out your butt while bending your other leg, and never let your knee go beyond your big toe.
  • Do 3 sets with 10 reps each.

Front Planks

  • This excellent choice of spinal stenosis exercises start by lying face down and keeping your toes together.
  • With your arms shoulder-width apart, lift your body up and put your weight on your elbows and arms.
  • Keep your body in a straight-line and hold this position for a minute.
  • Do it thrice.

Advanced Front Planks

  • Get in a front plank position but place your arms on a medicinal ball or a basketball.
  • Slowly pull your arms in toward your body while balancing on the ball.
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