Exercises to Relieve Pain of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

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Lumbar spinal stenosis is painful condition in which the spine is constricted in the lower back, which puts pressure on the nerves and spinal cord. It can be triggered by arthritis or a degenerative disc condition. Key symptoms are lower back pain, numbness in the extremities (especially the hands and arms) and leg discomfort. People with lumbar stenosis can do stretching and strength-building exercises to relieve symptoms.

Exercises to Relieve Pain of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
(Dale Davidson/Demand Media)

Lumber exercises are designed to bend your spine either forward or backward. Kneeling and standing exercises will do the latter, and exercises with your back on the floor will accomplish the former. It is recommended that you do 10 repetitions of each exercise up to three times. Hold each position for five seconds. Do the exercises as often as you can.

Dale Davidson/Demand Media

Lying on a hard surface with your legs extended will allow the spine to align itself naturally. Try relaxing in this position for a few minutes to start out.

While still on the floor, bring your knees up and press your lower back to the floor. Repeat 10 times. This exercise will build strength in the lower back, which can help stabilize the spine.

With your knees still up, squeeze your buttocks together, then release them. This is another good strength movement. The buttocks help support the lower back, so they need to be worked.

Next, pull both of your knees up together and hold them against your upper body. Lower your feet to the floor, then repeat.

You can also do the above exercise pulling up one leg at a time. This will stretch each side of the lower back separately.

Now, with your knees up and feet on the floor, lift your buttocks off the floor. This movement will strengthen the area between the lower and middle back. People with lumbar stenosis should work surrounding muscle groups as well as the lower back to better stabilize their spine.

Extend you legs and perform leg lifts. Try to hold your feet 6 inches off the floor. Lower your feet, then repeat the movement. On the next set, try raising your feet 12 inches off the floor; then do 18 inches on the last set. Strong abdominal muscles will help support the spine.

With your legs still extended, lift the right leg up and twist your body to the left. Place your right foot over your left one and get a good stretch. Repeat on the other side.

Dale Davidson/Demand Media

While kneeling on the floor, slowly lean and move forward, stretching your arms as far as you can. This is a good warm-up exercise.

To perform "The Cobra," lie on your stomach with your arms to the side. Squeeze your buttocks and abdominal muscles simultaneously, but relax your legs. Slowly lift your upper body off the floor and hold that position. Do not raise yourself up too high, or you'll risk injury. Just a few inches should do.

While still on your stomach, put a rolled-up towel on the floor. Place your forehead on it. Slowly lift your right arm and leg an inch or two off the floor. Relax and do the same thing with the other arm and leg.

Marching in place is another exercise for people with lumbar spinal stenosis. Raise each leg up about 3 or 4 inches while marching. Do this for 30 to 60 seconds, take a short break, then do two more sets of this exercise.

Dale Davidson/Demand Media

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