Exercise is one of the safe and effective supportive methods for the treatment of bone and joint disorders, especially spinal degeneration. Consistent daily exercise helps naturally stretch the spine, thereby aiding in functional recovery and preventing dangerous complications of the disease. In this article, we will share 7 simple and effective exercises for individuals with spinal degeneration.
Should individuals with spinal degeneration exercise?
Spinal degeneration is a chronic bone and joint disease that causes pain, spinal deformity, and reduced joint function and mobility. Factors that contribute to the degenerative process may include age, job nature, diet, or lack of physical activity.
Many individuals with spinal degeneration wonder whether they should exercise, fearing that physical activity may have negative effects on their spine. However, according to experts, if regular physical exercise is not performed, the muscles will become stiff and weak. This can affect the function of the spinal region, especially its ability to bear pressure and facilitate movement, making it difficult and less flexible.
On the contrary, regular daily exercise through gentle and simple exercises can help maintain flexible, resilient, and strong bone and joint systems. Additionally, it aids in stretching the spine, minimizing spinal pain and promoting a sense of well-being.
Individuals with spinal degeneration should choose exercises that do not exert excessive force, such as tai chi, walking, swimming, yoga, and other low-impact activities. It is advisable to avoid sports that require strenuous physical effort or excessive movement, such as soccer, tennis, and badminton.
7 Gentle and Simple Exercises for Individuals with Spinal Degeneration
Here is a guide to 7 easy-to-follow exercises for individuals with spinal degeneration:
1. Exercise for Spinal Degeneration – Walking
Walking is a simple method that helps improve muscle flexibility, gently mobilizes the joints, reduces pain, and promotes a sense of relaxation and stress relief, making it suitable for individuals with spinal degeneration.
- Maintain a straight back and relaxed shoulders while walking, allowing your arms to swing naturally.
- Start with a slow pace and gradually increase your speed, taking firm and decisive steps.
- Practice deep nasal breathing and exhale through your mouth to regulate your breath and conserve energy while walking.
- Aim to walk for approximately 30 to 45 minutes each day.
- Choose comfortable clothing and properly fitting athletic shoes.
2. Exercise for Spinal Degeneration – Cycling
Cycling is a gentle yet highly effective exercise that engages the muscles of the back, hips, and thighs. It helps strengthen muscles and joints, promoting overall stability. You can choose to cycle outdoors or use a stationary bike.
- Warm up your body with light stretching for about 3-5 minutes before starting your cycling session.
- If cycling outdoors, select a flat terrain with minimal traffic.
- Adjust the bike seat to ensure a straight and comfortable spine, avoiding any excessive strain on the lower back.
- Limit your cycling duration to 30-45 minutes per day and incorporate 5-10 minutes of rest before continuing.
Note: Before beginning any exercise program, especially if you have spinal degeneration, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or certified trainer. They can provide personalized guidance and ensure that the exercises are suitable for your specific condition.
3. Exercise for Spinal Degeneration – Swimming
Swimming is a relatively safe exercise method that minimizes the risk of spinal injury. You can dedicate 20-30 minutes each day to swimming, which helps stretch the muscles, loosen the joints, and alleviate pressure on the spinal discs. This, in turn, can reduce pain and discomfort.
However, individuals with spinal degeneration should remember to warm up before swimming, avoid overexertion, and maintain a regular exercise routine to achieve optimal results.
4. Exercise for Spinal Degeneration – Single Bar Exercise
The single bar exercise helps naturally stretch the entire spinal column, reducing pressure on the joints, spinal discs, and vertebrae. It also enhances joint mobility, improves blood circulation, and delivers essential nutrients to the joints. Additionally, this exercise strengthens the back muscles and alleviates the weight burden on the spine.
However, individuals with spinal degeneration should follow proper posture to minimize the risk of injury during the workout:
- Stand in front of the single bar with a relaxed stance.
- Raise both hands high and grip the horizontal bar with a shoulder-width distance between them. Inhale gently through the nose and slowly lift your body, allowing your legs to hang freely.
- Maintain this position for 10 seconds, then gently lower yourself down. Repeat the movement 5-7 times.
5. Spinal Stretching Exercises
Spinal stretching exercises help relieve muscle tension, support the spine, and improve the range of motion for individuals with spinal conditions.
- Start by lying on your back with a straight spine, arms by your sides, and knees bent so that your feet are flat on the floor.
- Slowly bring both knees close to your chest, hold onto them tightly with your hands, and raise your head.
- Maintain this position for 10-15 seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat the movement 7-10 times.
- Begin by sitting on your heels with a straight back.
- Extend your arms forward, place your palms flat on the floor, and lower your torso until your forehead touches the floor.
- Hold this position for 15-20 seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat the movement 5 times.
- Lie face down, supporting your upper body with your hands at a 90-degree angle and palms flat on the floor.
- Keep the tops of your feet on the ground and press your palms while pushing your pelvis forward. Slightly arch your neck and remember to breathe evenly.
- Maintain this position for 1-2 minutes, then return to the starting position. Repeat the movement 3-5 times.
6. Exercise for Spinal Degeneration – Lumbar Stretching
Lumbar stretching exercises are aimed at elongating the lower back to improve muscle tension, enhance blood circulation to the muscles, and effectively prevent back pain. These exercises range from simple to advanced, and here are a few basic movements for beginners.
Bridge Pose for Back Stretch:
- Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, and keep your head and shoulders grounded.
- Lift your hips and buttocks off the floor, supporting your body weight with your head and feet.
- Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat the movement 3-5 times.
Lumbar Stretch with a Swiss Ball:
- To perform this exercise, lie on your back on a specialized Swiss ball designed for exercise, and extend your arms straight above your head to elongate the back.
- Maintain this position for 15-30 seconds, focusing on balancing your body. Perform the lumbar stretching exercise with the Swiss ball 5-7 times.
Seated Forward Bend:
- Sit with a straight back, extend your legs forward, toes pointing upward, and touch your ankles and knees together, maintaining a forward gaze.
- Gradually bend forward, aiming to bring your head closer to your knees while lowering your body as much as possible to feel the elongation of the lower back.
- Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, then return to the starting position. Perform the movement 7-10 times.
7. Exercise for Spinal Degeneration – Back Strengthening
This exercise focuses on strengthening the back muscles, improving spinal mobility, and enhancing blood circulation. Back strengthening can be performed at two levels, depending on your body’s condition.
- Lie face down on an exercise mat, keeping your back straight, and extend your legs and arms comfortably along your body.
- Inhale gently, then slowly lift your head and chest off the mat, exhale, and lower your body back down.
- Repeat this movement 7-10 times.
- Again, lie face down with your legs extended as in the initial position of the moderate-level exercise, but interlace your hands behind your neck.
- Take a deep breath and gradually lift your head and chest off the mat. Exhale softly as you lower your body back to the starting position.
- Repeat this movement 5-7 times.
What should people with spinal degeneration pay attention to during exercise?
Although exercising can bring positive results in the treatment of spinal degeneration, individuals with this condition should consider the following to ensure safety:
- Consult with a doctor or specialist before starting an exercise routine to choose appropriate exercises based on their physical condition.
- Engage in a gentle warm-up for about 5 minutes prior to exercising to warm up the body and reduce the risk of joint injuries.
- Perform exercises with the correct form and technique, avoiding overexertion.
- Limit high-intensity exercises that place excessive pressure on the spine to prevent worsening of the condition.
- Combine exercises with deep breathing, inhaling through the nose and exhaling gently through the mouth, to provide oxygen to the body.
- If any unusual reactions occur during the exercise, individuals should stop and discontinue the activity.
- In addition to exercise, individuals with spinal degeneration should also adopt a balanced diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment.
According to experts in the field, exercises for individuals with spinal degeneration are highly effective in improving and preventing symptoms of the condition. However, in order to achieve complete recovery, patients need to combine these exercises with other treatment methods to expedite the restoration of spinal function.
John Alen was born in 1971 and is a doctor in the healthcare and psychology fields with many years of experience. He is currently working at easyhealthylive.com, a leading health and psychology blog. Having studied at Y1 National Medical University named after IM Sechenov, John Alen is using his knowledge and experience to help improve the physical and mental health of people in the United States.