Retrolisthesis Exercises


Retrolisthesis, one of several conditions involving a misaligned vertebrae, occurs when a spinal vertebrae slips backward to put pressure on the disc below it. Although surgery is sometimes needed, retrolisthesis often can be treated with physical therapy followed by exercises done at home.

Core Exercises

  • As little as 10 minutes of daily core exercises to strengthen the lower back, abs and oblique muscles can help improve the symptoms of retrolisthesis. A strong core can take the pressure off the spine. Strengthening the gluteal and abdominal muscles should reduce pain experienced in the lower back and buttocks.
    Pelvic tilts can improve strength in your abs and back without strain. Lie on your back and bend your knees. Put your feet flat on the floor, parallel to each other. Allow your arms to rest at your sides with your palms down on the floor. Tilt your pelvis up so that your lower back presses into the floor. Squeeze your abs and glutes, and keep your back pressed down for three to five seconds. Do five to 10 reps.
    Bridges can be done from almost the same position to build strength in your glutes. With your feet flat on the floor and your knees above your ankles, lift your hips off the floor a few inches. Use your arms at your sides for balance but not to lift yourself up. Do five to 10 reps.
    Speak with your doctor or physical therapist before attempting these exercises.

Myofacial Release

  • A muscle spasm can pull the misaligned vertebrae out of position or hold it out of position. The muscles around the spine run from front to back, and a spasm will pull the bones backward, making worse a case of retrolisthesis in which the disc is out of place in a back position. Find a chiropractor who can use the Robb Myofascial Release to treat muscle spasms and soft tissue problems. You also can do foam roller exercises to release tension in the fascia in your back.
    Lie face up with a foam roller positioned horizontally under your lower back. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor. Push with your legs, and roll the foam roller slowly up your spine. Stop if you feel tension or pain that would indicate a knot. Allow the foam roller to release the knot.

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