Foraminal Stenosis Strengthening Exercises

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Upper Back Stretch – Stand up straight with a flat counter top, table, or chair-back at just above waist-height a few feet in front of you. Lean forward from the hips and rest the hands on this surface, making sure to keep the elbows straight. Relax into the movement and remember to exhale as you move into the position. Allow the shoulders and upper back to round and the head to drop, like a cat stretching its back. Do this movement slowly and repeat ten times.

Single Leg Stretch – Whilst lying on the back on the floor place both feet flat shoulder width apart, with the knees bent. Bring the right knee to the chest and place both hands just below the knee for support. Lift the head off the floor and maintain this throughout the exercise. Then, whilst exhaling, kick the right leg out straight and bring the left knee to the chest. inhale, exhale and continue the movement by alternating the leg each time building to three sets of five repetitions. For those who have difficulty, try kicking the leg at a 90 degree angle instead as this takes some of the pressure off the back.

Double Knee-to-Chest Stretch – Whilst lying on the back, bring both knees to the chest and hug them to relax the spine. Hold the position for ten seconds. This position does not need multiple repetitions.


Double Knee to Chest Stretch Video


General Exercise for Foraminal Stenosis

Any exercise that improves cardiovascular health, helps with maintenance of an optimal weight, and does not put pressure on the back or risk sudden jolting to the back is usually quite helpful for back pain. Low impact exercise such as marching on a mini-trampoline, gentle bouncing on an exercise ball, or gentle swimming (taking care not to strain the neck) can offer therapeutic value alongside walking. Activities such as golf can exacerbate sciatic nerve pain due to foraminal stenosis and sacroiliac joint dysfunction, and running can put damaging amounts of stress on the spine and the spinal muscles. Clearly, activities such as wrestling, contact sports, or endurance activities are to be avoided unless given clearance by a qualified physician. Cycling as an exercise for foraminal stenosis may help to relieve the pain in the lumbar spine, but could also contribute to muscular issues in the back, particularly if poor posture is adopted during the activity.

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