Exercises for People With Lumbar Radiculopathy

Lumbar radiculopathy, is a medical condition in which the spinal root nerve is compressed or irritated. The symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy will vary depending on the nerve root that is compressed, however sciatica is the most common symptom of lumbar radiculopathy. Common symptoms include a pain that radiates from the lower back to the legs, reflex loss, muscle numbness or weakness. This condition may be caused a degenerative disease, a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. Your doctor or physical therapist will recommend some exercises that will stabilize the spine, alleviate the pressure spinal root and reduce the pain and discomfort.

Stretching exercises can alleviate the pressure on the compressed nerve root. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Upper Back Extension.

A herniated or bulging disk can compress a nerve root or the sciatic nerve resulting in a sharp pain that radiates from the lower back to the lower leg. Extension exercises can alleviate the pressure on the nerve root and reduce the associated pain and discomfort. Begin by lying on your stomach. Interlock your fingers and clasp your hands behind your lower back. Lift your head and chest slightly from the ground and hold this position for 5 seconds. Gradually increase your hold to 20 seconds and perform 8 to 10 repetitions of this exercise.

Total Back Stretch

A total back stretch targets tightened muscles, loosens them and reduces the pressure on the nerve root. Begin by lying on a flat surface. Bend both knees and place your feet on the ground. Place both hands behind the back of your thighs. Bring your knees towards your chest and bring your upper body forward. Perform one set of 10 repetitions as many times as possible a day without overexerting your back and causing more damage.

Curl Ups

Lumbar radiculopathy may be caused by spinal stenosis, a condition in which the passageway for the spine is constricted and the nerve becomes irritated or compressed, resulting in sciatica symptoms. Flexion exercises are typically recommended to increase the size of the passageway and reduce the irritation on the nerve root. Begin by lying your back and bending your knees. Plant your feet on the ground and fold your arms across your chest. Straighten your back by contracting your lower abdominal muscles and perform a curl by lifting your head and shoulder away from the ground. Hold this position for 2 to 4 seconds and gradually lower your upper body to the starting position.

Supine Piriformis Stretch

A tight or contracting muscle can lead to lumbar radiculopathy and sciatica symptoms. Stretching the muscles in the back, hamstrings and buttocks can alleviate the pressure on the compressed nerve root and alleviate the associated symptoms. Begin by lying on your back with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your affected leg and place both hands behind the thigh of your affected leg. Pull your affected knee towards your chest and hold this position for 30 seconds. Return your leg to the starting position and repeat this exercise 10 more times.

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