Bicycling

Purpose: Cardiovascular exercise

Points of Interest: Cycling is a great weight to perform cardiovascular exercise for people with lumbar spinal stenosis because walking and running often produce symptoms of back and/or leg pain.  Improvements in cardiovascular fitness are beneficial for the health of nerves.

Instructions: Set yourself up on a stationary bike so that your weight is comfortably distributed between the seat and handlebars.  You should be leaning forward slightly.  Depending on the equipment available to you, you could use a recumbent bike or an actual bicycle.

Knee-to-Chest

Purpose: To stretch the back of the hip and the lower back.

Points of Interest: Bringing your knee toward your chest will move the hip through its full range of motion, then the movement will come from the low back as lumbar spine flexion.

Instructions: Laying flat on your back, bring one knee toward your chest and hold.  The opposite leg should be laying flat on the ground.

Knee-to-Opposite Shoulder

Purpose: To stretch the back of the hip and the lower back.

Points of Interest: Bringing your knee toward your chest will move the hip through its full range of motion, then the movement will come from the low back as lumbar spine flexion.

Instructions: Laying flat on your back, bring one knee toward your opposite shoulder and hold.  The opposite leg should be laying flat on the ground.

Double Knee-to-Chest

Purpose: To stretch the back of the hips and the lower back.

Points of Interest: Bringing your knees toward your chest will move the hips through their full range of motion, then the movement will come from the low back as lumbar spine flexion.

Instructions: Laying flat on your back, bring your knees toward your chest and hold.

Pelvic Twist

Purpose: To improve lumbar spine flexion and rotation

Points of Interest: Aim to keep the back of your shoulders on the ground as you lower your knees to the ground.

Instructions: Lay on your back with your knees bent up so your feet are on the ground.  Lower your knees to one side keeping your feet on the ground.  As you rotate to the side the back of your shoulders should stay flat on the ground.  If you don't feel enough of a stretch you can cross one leg over the other and then lower your legs to the side.

Nerve Flossing

Purpose: To improve the mobility of the sciatic nerve

Points of Interest: The leg symptoms that patients with lumbar spinal stenosis experience are often caused by impingement of the sciatic nerve.  Nerve flossing is a helpful tool to improve the mobility of the sciatic nerve. 

Instructions: Start by laying on your back.  Place a strap around the ball of your foot.  Straighten your leg and lift it up until feel a mild stretch in the back of your leg.  Then pulse your foot between pointing your toes away and pulling them toward you.

Pelvic Tilt

Purpose: To develop the capacity to hold a posterior pelvic tilt.  This will eventually be carried over to a standing posture and walking.

Points of Interest: A posterior pelvic tilt places the lumbar spine in flexion, and flexion allows for the greatest amount of opening of the spinal canal and neural foramen (where the nerve exit the spine).

Instructions: Start by laying on your back.  Bend your knees up so your feet are flat on the ground.  Use your abdominal muscles to push your low back into the ground (flattening the curve of the low back).  Continue to breathe normally while maintaining this posture.

Half Sit-Up

Purpose: To challenge the abdominal muscles while maintaining a posterior pelvic tilt

Points of Interest: Focus on maintaining a posterior pelvic tilt.

Instructions: Start by laying on your back, engage your abdominal wall to create a posterior pelvic tilt.  Then lift up your head and shoulders into a half sit-up.