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Physical Therapy Exercises For Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal which puts pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerves. This condition may be caused by osteoarthritis, aging, and/or injury. It may result in extreme pain in the upper or lower body. Symptoms may include weakness and/or numbness in extremities, pain in legs while walking, and difficulty with bladder and bowel function. While there is no cure, physical therapy exercises for spinal stenosis may relieve some of the symptoms.

Flexing The Spine

Stretching the muscles of the lower back is often suggested in order to expand the nerve’s passageway and decrease pain.

  • Begin on all fours with shoulders directly above hands and buttocks above knees.
  • Stretch the body back so that arms are straight on the floor and buttocks rests on heels.
  • Hold position for 30 seconds.
  • Return to starting position.
  • Complete five repetitions.

Bringing Knees To The Chest

Stretching lower back muscles and hips is also suggested for creating additional space for spinal nerves.

  • Lie down on a mat with arms at sides and legs straight out in front.
  • Bend right leg – gently pressing it toward the chest using hands.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Return to starting position.
  • Repeat with the left leg.
  • Complete five repetitions with each leg.
  • Repeat this exercise using both legs at the same time.


Exercises for spinal stenosis that strengthen lower abdominal muscles helps decrease pain.

  • Lie down on a mat with knees bent and legs hip-distance apart.
  • Place hands behind head.
  • Tighten muscles of lower abdomen and buttocks.
  • Press lower back to floor.
  • Hold position for 10 seconds.
  • Complete eight repetitions.

Rotating The Trunk

Rotation of the lower trunk increases flexibility in lower back and hips.

  • Lie down on a mat with feet together and knees bent.
  • Keep hands at sides.
  • Gradually rotate knees to the right as far as comfortably possible.
  • Hold for five seconds.
  • Tighten abs and gradually rotate knees to the left as far as comfortably possible.
  • Hold for five seconds.
  • Complete 10 repetitions on each side.
  • Physical therapists can help design fitness programs that protect the spine and help improve muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness. They will supervise exercises for spinal stenosis ensuring proper form and technique.
  • Athletic Orthopedics

    Athletic Orthopedics

    Athletic Orthopedics

    Athletic Orthopedics
    & Knee Center
    9180 Katy Freeway
    Suite 200
    Houston, TX 77055





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