I am 32 years old, and a few months ago I had a lower back pains which kept me up at nights, NSAIDs eased the pain but I was left with a mild pain in the lower back. I had an x-ray which showed a Lumbar Spinal Stenosis in L5-S1.

My workout routine prior to the injury was somewhat extensive including hanging leg raises v-ups squats etc...

Right now, with the guidance of a PT, I am doing a mild all machine workout routine consisting of pull down, push, pull, leg curl, leg extension etc.

My PT said I should only do planks for the abs because any other ab workout is strenuous on the lower back

My questions are:

  1. What workouts are suggested as ab workouts for this situation
  2. Is this kind of machine pull-push recommended for this situation?
  • I am not a doctor, but would a Ab-wheel be useful to you? It strengthens pretty much all of your core and lower back and does not focus the pressure on specific parts (like incline-crunches do)
    – John
    Apr 6 '16 at 11:21
  • 2
    @JJosaur I would disagree with your suggestion to use an Ab wheel. Spinal Stenosis is not a single condition. It can present in a variety of ways depending on the cause(s). Therefore, suggesting an AB wheel may be contraindicated.
    – rrirower
    Apr 6 '16 at 13:06
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    Also, since the asker already has a PT, I don't think any of us are qualified to make a more informed answer.
    – Alec
    Apr 7 '16 at 8:25

Pull-push question probably should be separated from here, so I'm sticking with the abs.

Ab-wheels are great, and for anyone that's in pretty top notch shape with good shoulders and good body mechanics, I'd recommend them. But they're an advanced exercise and it's easy to hurt your back, shoulders, and wrists if you're not there yet. No need to jump the progression ladder.

Instead, I'd go a little further than your physical therapist but still basically staying in their guidance:

Stir The Pot. (more info)

enter image description here

Basically you firm up your glutes and abs, and get your forearms resting on the ball. Then start moving your arms around. A bit forward, and back. A bit to the left, then back. To the right, then back, etc. Make little circles, make patterns, whatever.

It will keep you in that isometric plank position, but provide a much more taxing exercise as it works a lot more angles as well as your obliques.

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