Lumbar spinal stenosis is a painful condition in which the spinal canal in the lower back narrows, pinching the spinal cord and its surrounding nerves. This can cause difficulty walking or standing up straight, numbness or tingling in the areas below the pinch, and, in extreme cases, weakness in the legs. Lumbar spinal stenosis patients can lose weight the same way anyone else can: by reducing how many calories they consume and increasing their exercise. Exercising with back pain may seem daunting, but it is actually one of the most important elements of managing spinal stenosis.
Exercise at least 150 minutes each week. Choose cardiovascular exercises that don't cause you pain. Cycling and swimming are popular choices for lumbar spinal stenosis patients, Dr. Grant Cooper writes for the Spine-Health website. Avoid high-impact activities such as jogging, jumping rope and playing sports.
Do strengthening exercises at least two days each week. Developing the muscles in your back can help support your spinal column; increasing your flexibility can relieve pain. Talk to a trainer or physical therapist about strength-training exercises that are suitable for lumbar spinal stenosis patients.
Practice tai chi. Its slow pace and emphasis on stability and flexibility are ideal for people with back pain. Although tai chi doesn't burn many calories, any exercise that builds muscle and increases flexibility and stamina is good for overall fitness.
Create a caloric deficit by cutting empty calories from your diet. Reduce the amount of sugar, processed food, saturated fat, soda and alcohol you consume. Replace these foods with lean meats, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Trim calories by eating vegetables as snacks instead of chips or crackers. Use salad plates instead of dinner plates to control your portions more easily. Eat slowly and mindfully — and stop when you feel satisfied.
Talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program or changing your diet.
Don't do any exercise that hurts your back. If something causes you pain, stop doing it immediately.
- American Dietetic Association: Back to Basics for Healthy Weight Loss
- MayoClinic.com; How Much Should the Average Adult Exercise Every Day?; Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.; Feb. 17, 2011
- Spine-Health; Exercises for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis; Grant Cooper, M.D.; July 25, 2007
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; Lumbar Spinal Stenosis; May 2009