Pilates for Spinal Stenosis

by Malika
(Boston MA)

Pilates spine stretch forward for spinal stenosis.

Pilates spine stretch forward for spinal stenosis.

Hi, I have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis.

I was wondering if it was still safe to do Pilates exercises?

I usually do my exercise at home with a DVD, as my work schedule does not allow me to get to classes.

Thank you


Hi Malika and thank you for your question.

I have several clients who have spinal stenosis and yes, Pilates is very helpful for people with spinal stenosis when they know the right exercises to do for this condition.

Because stenosis is a narrowing of the column where the spinal cord runs, any pinching or decreasing of the space in the canal is not going to feel good.

Depending on where in the spine the stenosis is, flexion exercises and those that support the spine in neutral are helpful for people with this condition.

Pilates exercises specific to flexion include; spine stretch forward as shown in the image above, the hundreds, single and double leg stretches.

Be careful with any exercises that have your legs in the air such as tabletop position with your head down. As long as your head is lifted your back is braced into the mat, or you want to keep as much of your back body against the mat when doing the supine exercises as you can.

You can also do the side kick series, modify by bending the lower leg to protect your back keeping it slightly flexed if you need to.

These two pages would be helpful for you to do the flexion for the thoracic and lumbar spine:

Pilates Cat Stretch

Spine stretch forward

Avoid extension exercises, most of which are done in the prone or lying face down position. They can compromise the position of the back causing the spine to over extend.

You can modify these prone or belly down exercises by placing a towel or small pillow under your pelvis to flex the spine slightly. You will also have to modify the range of motion when you lift your upper or lower extremeties in this position to just parallel to the floor, no higher.

I would recommend taking a look at my Pilates Ebook, it has certain modifications for spinal stenosis and other back and joint conditions.

Pilates Ebook – Relief for Back and Joint Pain.

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