Should You Exercise When You Have Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?



Did you know that there are more than 200,000 cases of spinal stenosis each year? A great majority of those cases will be lumbar spinal stenosis, which is attributed to the narrowing of spaces in the lower back. In fact, 75% of all cases of spinal stenosis will occur here. Symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis could include a feeling of numbness or tingling in the legs, falling more often, or pain when walking. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should speak with a neurosurgeon like J Kevin Kaufman, M.D. to rule out any other life-threatening conditions and determine a treatment plan that best fits your individual needs.

Exercising with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis


If your doctor gives you the okay, you should maintain an exercise schedule to help manage the spinal condition. Lumbar spinal stenosis is typically a chronic degenerative disorder. There may be times when your symptoms improve and other times when they are exacerbated. Although it might seem counterintuitive if you have pain or stiffness, exercise might help you manage your symptoms. Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to the lower back. It also strengthens muscles around the affected area, so less pressure is put on the lumbar spine itself.  Finally, there are universal benefits of exercise, like weight management and stress relief, which could help ease the pain as well.


What Kind of Exercises Should You Be Doing?

Obviously, full-contact football is out as are any activities that put too much stress on the spine. Instead, the best exercises will be lower impact ones that minimize risk but still provide a high level of activity. Walking is one exercise that should be considered. You can easily do it on your lunch break or after work, and you can always bring a friend. Another good option is swimming as it supports your weight and minimizes pressure on the spine. Finally stretching exercises and tai chi might be good options to relieve pain as well.


However, before you get started, always remember to consult your doctor and spine surgeon before beginning an exercise program. They may be able to offer you additional recommendations and consultation about exercising with lumbar spinal stenosis. And if you begin to experience significant levels of pain or notice new pain, stop what you’re doing and speak to your doctor to avoid further injury.