Certain stretches and exercises are designed to bring relief for sciatica from spinal stenosis, a condition which can cause severe leg pain and difficulty walking. The focus of these techniques is to increase flexion strength and extension flexibility in the spine. The goal of these exercises is to help the patient perform more activities with less leg pain and improved function.
Video presented by Ron Miller, PT
This video accompanies the article: Exercise for Sciatica from Spinal Stenosis
Sciatica Exercises for Spinal Stenosis
For many people with spinal stenosis, the idea is trying to get flexion restored into your lower spine. A gentle way to do that is begin lying on your back and pulling your knees up to your chest slowly until you feel a light stretch in your low back and hold that about thirty seconds and then release the legs. Notice when I pull my legs up, I like to pull one leg up at a time for added comfort to your low back.
Back Flexion Exercises
Another way of adding more flexion to your spine is beginning on hands and knees and sitting back on your heels while your arms stay stretched out, low chest towards the floor. This is a very comfortable stretch and should not be painful. The key here is to make sure your hips remain low to the ground and you don’t reach forward with your hands. Keep your hips back and your head and chest down. Again hold approximately thirty seconds then come back to hands and knees.
How to Perform a Pelvic Tilt
The first thing that’s quite important to learn is a proper way to perform a pelvic tilt. Tilting the pelvis is very important because you need to be able to move the pelvis separate from the spine. So, the easiest way to do this is lying on your back with your knees bent up and think about pulling your bellybutton down towards your spine. Don’t think so much about flattening the back against the floor, but more try to pull the bellybutton towards the spine and your back will automatically flatten towards the floor. So as you pull your bellybutton in, your pelvis will actually roll up towards your chest. This is a position you should hold while you are performing many of these exercises.
Hook Lying March Exercise
Again, begin by performing a pelvic tilt and now slowly raise one leg at a time, only an inch or two, and back down, back and forth. The goal here is to do this without rolling your pelvis side to side and if you lock your pelvis in position, it should stay fairly strait. You should be able to speak while doing these exercises so you are not overworking yourself. Once this exercise is done correctly, you can add a combination. Again, lock your pelvis into position and as you raise your left leg, drop your right arm down over your head. And then alternate back and forth. Here what you don’t want to do is let your pelvis tilt back up and arch your back, so your back should stay relatively still while performing these exercises.
Abdominal Curl-up Exercises
For strengthening the abdominal muscles, start in the hook lying position, cross your arms over chest, again roll your pelvis backwards to gently flatten the back, and raise your head and shoulders while keeping your belly pulled in. It’s best to move slowly and note we are only coming several inches off the floor. For more of the lower abdominals, lock your pelvis into position, straighten out one knee, and gently raise it six to eight inches off the floor. Avoid arching your back when your leg is flat. And then repeat with the other leg.