Exercises Dos and Don’ts When Treating Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis; no doubt the word is too long to pronounce! Spondylos in Greek means ‘Spine or vertebra’, and listhesis means ‘to slide over’. When a spinal bone or the vertebra as you call it, slides over or slips on the vertebra below it, the condition is called spondylolisthesis. When the bone slips to a great extent it compresses the spinal nerve resulting into back pain.

Spondylolisthesis generally involves the bones of the lower spine. The disorder is most common among people above the age of 40. Commonest reason is degenerative changes in the spinal disc due to aging.

Spinal discs are spongy structure between two spine bones that cushion them and provide flexibility. Trauma, infection, tumor are some of reasons that are responsible for spondylolisthesis.

Frequently, low back pain is the first presenting symptom of spondylolisthesis. There is a feeling of muscle spasm in the lower back. Depending on the severity of the condition it can also cause pain and spasm of the thigh muscles. If the nerve is compressed, the pain can radiate down the legs with a feeling of numbness and tingling. Most often spondylolisthesis is treated conservatively; rest, exercise and medications are the hallmark of spondylolisthesis conservative treatment.

Exercises For Spondylolisthesis Treatment

Exercise plays an important role in treating the condition. Exercise helps to strengthen the muscles of the back and abdomen. Strengthening of this core muscles will help to prevent further damage of the vertebra and improve the flexibility. Following is the exercise useful for spondylolisthesis treatment:

  • Knee- chest stretch: the exercise is designed to stretch the muscles of the back and improve the flexion. It also strengthens the abdominal muscles. For doing this you have to lie on the back. Now fold your legs at knee joint, keeping your feet horizontal to the ground.
    Slowly bring your folded knees towards your chest. Wrap your arms around the knees and count for 10 to 15 seconds. Do it for five times in the beginning.
  • Hamstring stretch: sit on the floor with both your legs stretched in front of your body. Now fold the left leg at knee joint in such a way that the foot touches the thigh of the right leg. Extend your hands and try to touch your finger tips to the toes of stretched right foot. The exercise helps to stretch the muscles of the thigh and back.
  • Pelvic tilt increases the strength of the abdomen and back muscle.
  • With abdominal curls your abdominal muscles become strong. It prevents further sliding of the vertebra.

Exercises To Avoid With Spondylolisthesis

  • Certain exercise and sports events are known to aggravate spondylolisthesis.  Injury and continuous wear and tear while playing can lead to prolapsed disc. Especially sports activities such as gymnastics and weight lifting.
  • Certain exercise that strengthen the body’s core muscles are known to cause excessive strain on your back, especially lower back. They are sit ups or lying on the stomach and lifting the legs or flutter kicks.
  • Even lifting a heavy object or heavy weight lifting exercise can aggravate the condition of spondylolisthesis. Avoid carrying heavy backpacks; avoid lifting instruments that are needed for digging etc.

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