Spinal stenosis is a condition caused by arthritis or the natural process of aging. Symptoms typically worsen gradually but can cause extreme pain as the condition worsens. In addition to seeking help from pain management services, stenosis patients can try targeted exercise to relieve pain and improve their overall health.
What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis involves a narrowing of the channels between spine segments. As the channels become constricted, it places pressure on spinal nerves causing pain and a variety of symptoms, including:
- Weakness in the feet, legs, hands, or arms
- Balance problems
- Difficulty walking
- Numbness or tingling in extremities
- Lower back and sciatic pain
- If left untreated, spinal stenosis can lead to chronic pain and disability.
Exercises for Spinal Stenosis
Remaining active can help prevent stenosis, but unfortunately, structural changes to the body are a natural part of aging. The good news is that stretching can improve stenosis symptoms, especially when used in combination with other treatments.
There are three key stretching techniques experts recommend. Performing them daily, if possible, will yield the best results.
1. Half-Kneeling Stretch
This stretch targets the hip flexors and quadriceps simultaneously. Start by kneeling with the back of your feet pressed up against the wall. Place a cushion under your knees for extra comfort.
From this position, slide one knee back toward the wall. Allow your foot and leg to slide up the surface as far as is comfortable. Your toes will be pointed toward the ceiling and your shin will be resting on or near the wall.
Keep your chest up and squeeze the glute of the extended leg as hard as you can. Hold for 60 seconds for three repetitions.
2. Tall Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Kneel on the floor on one knee. We’ll call this the back leg. For stability, align the knee of your back leg directly under the hip and the knee of your front leg directly over the ankle. Push the toes of your back leg into the floor. Keep your chest tall.
Squeeze the glute of the back leg as hard as you can. While squeezing, lift the arm on your engaged side towards the ceiling and tilt away slightly. Hold for 60 seconds for three repetitions.
This stretch focuses on the hip flexors and lengthens key muscles in the trunk that help with good posture.
3. Cat-Cow Stretch
This move is familiar to most people. It works to lengthen muscles in the lumbar region and improve posture while decompressing the spinal canal.
Start with your hands and knees on the floor. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Take a deep breath in as you exhale slowly, round your spine up toward the sky. Tuck your chin into your chest and release tension from your neck. This is called the “cat” position.
Take another deep inhale while arching your back. Lift your tailbone and head to the sky, and let your abs relax. This is called the “cow” position.
Continue slowly moving from cat to cow with slow, controlled breathing. Do three sets with 15 repetitions.
Seeking Help from Pain Management Services
Stretching can be an effective way to manage pain for some people. But when pain is becoming more severe or threatens to debilitate you, it’s time to schedule an appointment at a pain management clinic. The experts at St. Louis Pain Consultants recommend a combination of diagnostic options that may include physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, prescription medications, OTC medication, and epidural nerve block along with stretching and other non-invasive treatments.