Pilates Home Exercises for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
By Lynda Lippin, Master Pilates Teacher, Certified Personal Trainer, and Pelvic Clock® Educator http://pilatesteachermastermind.com
As human being live longer, we start to see some more degenerative spine conditions that may have not been as prevalent in the past. One common condition that we see more of in older folks is lumbar spinal stenosis.
While this stenosis can cause pain, it can be easily managed through properly modified home exercises, specifically Pilates exercises performed alone and using the Pelvic Clock® device.
What is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
The lumbar spine is commonly known as the lower back, and consists of the five vertebrae below your ribcage, and above your sacrum. Lumbar Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces around and within your spine, which puts pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine.
Lumbar spinal stenosis is a result of aging, and wear and tear from arthritis. If you have had any spine injury, including a herniated disc, this can also increase your chances of developing stenosis.
Some folks have tons of back and leg pain from nerve impingement, while others have no symptoms at all. However, maintaining the spaces in the lumbar spine through proper exercises can alleviate current pain, as well as prevent future lower back pain.
The exercises should focus on some lumbar flexion and side bend to open up the space between the vertebrae, with a slight posterior pelvic tilt. Good lumbar spinal stenosis exercises, like modified Pilates, will help a lot.
Pilates Mat Exercises for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Pilates mat exercises alone can do a lot to help strengthen the muscles around the lumbar spine (the deep abdominals, pelvic floor, adductors, gluteals, iliopsoas, QL, and lumbar multifidi), increasing stability while encouraging controlled mobility to increase and maintain space in the lumbar spine.
Adding the Pelvic Clock® device to a home Pilates exercise program allows us to effectively target the lower back and help alleviate pain from lumbar spinal stenosis faster.
As always, consult your physician or physical therapist before starting any exercise program. And if you feel worse, stop.
Here are some Pilates-based lumbar spinal stenosis exercises that you can try at home.
1. Pelvic Rocking with A Focus on Posterior Tilt
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
As you breath, start a small rocking movement of your pelvis--tipping it back as you exhale (hipbones back and tailbone up) and back to neutral (avoid arching the lower back). Repeat the tilt 10-15 times.
Then try to move side to side without moving your knees or ribcage. Pretend that someone dropped a hot ash on your right hip bone so that it drops towards the mat a little, and then the left. Breathe as you need to and go between the right and left hip 10-15 times.
Try this using the Pelvis Clock®
Finally, combine these movements into a very small circle, focusing more on the backward tilt. Try both directions 5-10 times. Then, try it using your Pelvic Clock®
2. Side Stretch
Start on your back with knees and arms straight, feet a bit wider than hips, and arms overhead.
Grab your left wrist with your right hand, and start to pull your upper body to the right, stretching through your left ribcage. Keep abdominals pulled in and up, not arching your lower back up.
Breathe a few times here.
If this feels OK, take your left foot and bring it next to the right, increasing the stretch through the side of the lower back.
Again, breathe a few times here.
Bring your left leg back out, and slide upper body back to center.
Then grab your right wrist with your left hand and start the same process on the other side. Repeat about 3 times on each side.
Then, try it using your Pelvic Clock®.