One of my trainers has a client who is just beginning a training program. She has severe spinal stenosis, and in two months, she is undergoing bilater knee replacement surgery. Can you offer some guidance or recommendations?
Stenosis means narrowing. In spinal stenosis, the spinal canal (which contains and protects the spinal cord and nerve roots) narrows and pinches the spinal cord and nerves. The result is low back pain as well as pain in the legs. Stenosis may pinch the nerves that control muscle power and sensation in the legs.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
- Pain and difficulty when walking, aggravated by activity.
- Numbness, tingling, hot or cold feelings, weakness or a heavy and tired feeling in the legs.
- Clumsiness, frequent falling or a foot-slapping gait.
Short of surgery, the best way to deal with spinal stenosis is to reduce the inflammation and try to improve alignment of the spine. The way I prefer to work on inflammation is from the inside out. Start by reading my article titled Truth in Nutrition. This will give you a start on how to use nutrition to reduce inflammation. With a spinal stenosis, the biggest thing to remember is not to do any extension exercises as this will further impinge the nerve and cause pain.
Exercises should be performed in a "neutral spine" position. I find that Reformer-based Pilates is a good type of exercise for people with stenosis, as long as the instructor understands the client's limitation. I would also focus on exercise that unload the spine such as the supine lateral ball roll and horse stance. Also work on core strength. Start by working on lower abdominal exercises and transverse abdominus activation techniques. And as always, consult a physician before beginning any exercise program.
- The Inner Unit by Paul Chek
- Scientific Core Conditioning (video) by Paul Chek
- Scientific Back Training (video) by Paul Chek