3 Tips To Help Make Your Spondylolisthesis Stretching More Effective

I hope you have had a chance to check out my series titled “My 5 Daily Spondylolisthesis Stretch/Movements”.

In this series I discuss the importance of movement along with a few of the spondylolisthesis stretches and movements I do on a daily basis.

If you have yet to read that series I encourage you to do so because today’s post builds upon that information.

When it comes to stretching and movement exercises many people fail to look at the big picture. They do not focus on the purpose of the stretches and movements that they are performing.

They simply go through the motions thinking that just doing them is enough and the results will either happen or they won’t.

But did you know there are actually a few things that you can add to your stretching regimen that can increase the likelihood of you improving what you are trying to improve?

Today I wanted to provide you with 3 quick things that you can do to help the effectiveness of your daily spondylolisthesis stretching and movement program.

They are quick, simple and best of all can be a VERY important addition to your spondylolisthesis stretching and movement routine.

As always, before jumping right into any of our demonstrated exercises, stretches or movements please consult with your physician to make sure you have clearance to do so.

We also recommend reading our disclaimer for safety purposes.


1. Warm Up Prior To Stretching

Ideally stretching should be performed when the body is already warm. However, most people make the mistake of using stretching as their warm up.

Increasing the core temperature of the body adds several benefits when performed PRIOR to stretching.

  • increased awareness
  • increased coordination
  •  increased blood flow
  • improved elasticity and contractability of muscles
  • decreases the risks of sprains and strains

As I mentioned in “My 5 Daily Spondylolisthesis Stretch/Movements” I prefer to perform my daily spondylolisthesis movements and stretches early in the morning.

However I do like to increase my core temperature a few degrees before I do so.

Rolling right out of bed and going right into stretching without warming up will not only increase your risk of injury, but it may not be nearly as effective.

There are a few ways you can increase your core temperature prior to stretching.

One of my favorites is to take a hot shower and simply move.

spondylolisthesis shower

Starting with a hot shower is a great way to increase your core temperature prior to stretching.

This could be as simple as taking a hot shower and performing a few basic movements afterwards.

Something as simple as a few arm circles or a brief walk inside the house from room to room will do just fine.

We are not talking about inducing a full blown sweat.

We only need some simple movements that help to eliminate some of the stiffness and increase your core temperature slightly.

Another way to increase that core temperature upon waking is by taking advantage of equipment (if you have it).

If you are fortunate enough to have some piece of cardio equipment at home a simple 5 minute brisk walk or bike ride would work great.

If you are fortunate enough to have cardio equipment at home a simple 5 minute walk at a small incline is an excellent way to increase core temperature BEFORE stretching.

If you do not have equipment, slowly move around the house walking from room to room for a minute or two. Gradually pick up your pace and add some simple movements like I mentioned above.

Whatever it is, try to increase that core body temperature BEFORE you start your routine. This is very important.


2. Foam Roll Targeted Areas….Above And Below

You probably know by now the benefits of foam rolling along with what is accomplished by foam rolling.

If you are new to this concept, want some more detailed information or you simply need a refresher check out these articles.

Foam Rolling Education (video)

Why Massage Can Help Your Spondylolisthesis

Foam rolling is another great way to warm up the areas you are targeting with your movement or stretch routine.

The key with foam rolling is to roll not only the area you plan on stretching, but also the areas above and below it.

For example if you are wanting to perform a stretch for the hamstring group it would be ideal to foam roll the glutes and hips (above) and the calves and ankle complex (below).

The body is intertwined with fascia that connects the body like a spider web. Focusing on foam rolling the areas above and below the target area is a great way to increase the effectiveness of the stretch.

I prefer to spend no more than 3-5 minutes foam rolling my restricted areas before going through my stretch routine.

Not only does it feel great and warm me up, I feel it provides me with a little extra range of motion.


3. Include Movement Afterwards

Including some kind of movement that involves the recruitment of the areas you just stretched is a great way to put that new found length to work.

For example, if a recent movement screen performed by a professional revealed you may have tightness in your hips and weakness in your back side, it would be a great idea to foam roll the hips and surrounding areas, stretch the hips, then add some hip range of motion drills or glute strengthening drill on top of the stretching to increase the chances of improved range of motion.

The time right after foam rolling and stretching is the best time to add this movement.

One of my personal favorite progressions using this method goes as follows.

1. Foam roll the quads/hip complex

2. Stretch the quads/hip complex

Spondylolisthesis Stretch


3. Activate and wake up the glutes with simple bridges

Bridge Finish

These 3 simple movements and stretches help to combat several of my personal weaknesses. Not to mention it feels great!

Adding this 5-10 extra minutes of work to your daily spondylolisthesis stretching routine could go a long way in improving how you move and feel.

Most people fall in to the poor habit of waking up, rolling out of bed, performing a few quick stretches and going on with their day, but it is very important not to fall into this routine. 

If you truly want to receive the benefits involved with stretching give these three simple tips a try before, during and after your next stretch routine.

Until then I would love to hear any questions or comments you have below.  Simply place your comment below in the comment section and I will get back to you.

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Leave A Reply (10 comments so far)

  1. Rupinder Kaur
    4 years ago

    Hello John, I am a 37-year-old lady with two cesarean sections, history of kidney stones. I lifted weight last year of water for two to three months continuously, sometimes 5 liter, sometimes 10 and three or four times 20 liters for a few feet. Since then I have severe low back pain, lower abdominal pain and legs pain, right more than left. X-ray showed spondylolisthesis of L5-S1. Recently I got my MRI done which showed grade 1 anterolisthesis of L5 over S1, diffuse disc bulge causing mild indentation of anterior thecal sac, bilateral neural foraminal narrowing with mild impingement of bilateral traversing nerve root.
    L1-L2 19 mm, L2-L3 19 mm, L2-L3 20 mm, L4-L5 18 mm, and L5-S1 17 mm. I have consulted two doctors who told me to undergo an operation but some says do not, wait until you can. I am confused what to do. Please give me your opinion and tell me in simple words what that means.

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Hello Rupinder. MRI’s and the medical jargon can paint a scary picture.

      Because of practice laws, I can’t tell you what to do. I’m sure you understand that. The best advise I can offer is to demand the answers and explanations from your doctors. You deserve that and it is their job. You need to understand what is happening in your body, and you need to understand ALL of your options. If the surgeon or other physician is rushing and can’t (or won’t) take the time to give you a thorough explanation to YOUR satisfaction, then seek another opinion.

      It is not unusual to encounter rushed physicians — it’s largely a product of the insurance-based world we have created. Try not to look at getting multiple opinions as “shopping” for a doctor. You aren’t looking for a doctor to tell you what you want to hear, but instead for a doctor who will fully disclose what you NEED. What you need may indeed point to one procedure (such as surgery), but they should also list the alternatives and the potential outcomes.

      Keep in mind that physicians don’t have a crystal ball. An MRI is a start to “see” what’s going on, but surgeons will admit that what the MRI says is not always the reality of what is really happening in your back — sometimes not as bad, sometimes worse.

      Your symptoms and success (or lack thereof) with a sound attempt at conservative treatment such as rehabilitation or even injections may guide your decision for surgery or not. Your physicians will tell you if this is even a safe option for you right now.

      As far as the MRI….The “grade 1 anterolisthesis of L5 over S1″ is a spondylolisthesis in which the L5 vertebra (on top) has slid forward on the S1 vertebra (on bottom). Grade 1 means that the movement is minimal (typically suggesting that conservative treatment may be successful in reducing symptoms).

      What the MRI doesn’t tell you is whether or not the spondylolisthesis (forward slippage) is stable or unstable. The slippage is present when you are lying on your back for the MRI. But what happens when you bend, twist, or extend your back? If extra movement occurs, then the spondylolisthesis is termed “unstable” and can be more difficult to rehabilitate. If no (or very minimal) movement occurs at the vertebra during bending, extending, or rotating then your symptoms RELATED TO THE SPONDYLOLISTHESIS have a good chance of resolving.

      Your symptoms in the legs and feet are more likely related to the nerve root impingement identified in the MRI. The “foraminal narrowing” suggests that the nerve is being pinched as it exits the spine. I would suggest getting your doctor’s opinion as to what is causing the narrowing of this exit point — is it the disc bulge, degeneration / loss of height of the disc between the L5 and S1 vertebrae, the shift (spondylolisthesis) between the L5 and S1 vertebrae, etc? This may determine what types of procedures they are suggesting.

      I hope that helps. Best wishes to you for a positive long-term solution. Remember, demand that the physicians give you their time until you understand all of your options. And don’t be afraid to get multiple opinions.

  2. salo
    4 years ago

    Hi. I really like the foam-stretch- activation combination.
    Lets say you’re working on core strenghtening through dead bugs and planks ;How would you do a progression. How you foam role the core muscles and what strecht would you do?

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Hi Salo. The answer to your question would require some input from the rehab professional you are working with or someone who has provided you with some kind of movement screen. Your specific movement related issues would determine the exact answer in your case.
      My thought process would go as follows: First you would need to determine why you are working on core strength in the first place. Do you have a timing or stabilization issue that you are trying to improve? Basically what is causing your “core weakness” and why? This would be a good question to ask your therapist. But for simplicity sake let’s say we determine there is a stabilization or timing issue during movement. If that would be the case then you would need to determine what areas may be affecting this issue. For example, my train of thought would be if someone has a timing or core stabilization issue perhaps they have 1.)breathing issues, 2.)perhaps tightness or restrictions in the hips or even thoracic spine. These are by no means the only areas, this is just an example. You could have issues all the way up and down the body that may be affecting your timing. So for this instance a proper foam, stretch, activation combination could be to foam roll the hips and t-spine, stretch the hips (various directions) and t-spine and then activate or practice proper breathing in combination with a reflex or stabilization based core exercise (this could be your dead bugs etc.). Then proceed to your exercises with a goal of carrying over those newly learned patterns. In this provided example you could also start with breathing exercises and work on them during stretching to practice. I hope this makes sense, but the core is an entirely different animal and requires some eyes and hands from a professional sometimes to help you determine the exact issues. Great question.

  3. John
    4 years ago

    Hi, I am john 18 year old , I was traucer/freerunner till i injured my back , after my mri and x-ray I discover i had 2 protrusion l4-l5 l5-S1 3.5 mm, after my treatment I had no pain in lower back and I continiued my vlips and many jumps but i heard sounds in my low back, i have new x-ray i discover that i have spondylolisthesis l5-s1 2.5-3 mm, and my lower back lordosis are straight or i have straight lower back, after i continiuing my training , handstand balances, walking, pull ups push ups and gym training , after i cant training becouse when i do handstand i feel painc in thoracik, i begin rehab 6 months and i have great core , abs low back muscles obliques , I cant stretch my humstring, when i do simple bodyweight exercise ex: v sit , i have pain in thoracik and lower back, and i am intresting , if my core is perfect i will do handstand and bodyweight exrcises?

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Hi John. Thanks for finding the site and asking a question. I have to be honest, I am a little confused by your question. I believe what you are asking is if you believe you have a perfect core, why are handstands and body weight exercises causing you pain? If this is not what you are asking please reply to my comment and I can do a better job answering what you are asking. There are two things to keep in mind. 1). Just because you believe you have a perfect core does not mean everything is firing on all cylinders. A perfect core is not just a strong one. You may have some timing or stabilization issues present that have led to compensations (and pain) over the years. If your injury was caused by a fall or traumatic accident this too could affect your stabilization. 2.) A perfect core is not everything when it comes to moving and feeling better. It is only a piece of the pie. Most people who have spondy’s do have issues in the core, but not everybody. You may have some imbalances throughout your body that are leading to this pain during certain movements. Perhaps you have mobility issues in your thoracic spine, hips, etc. The best way to figure this out is to find someone certified in a movement screen and get analyzed. A while back I wrote this blog post to provide people with a better understanding of movement screening. Check it out as it may provide you with more answers: https://spondyinfo.com/screening-for-spondylolisthesis-and-spondylolysis/
      Again, I hope this answers you question, if not simply get back to me and we can go from there. Thanks!

  4. Andrew Marks
    3 years ago

    Hi, any personal view on dead bugs as I have heard they can really mess your insides up? Planks, bird dogs, bridges, pelvic tilts , small amount of bench pressing all good, only not sure about dead bugs!! Thoughts

    • Spondy
      3 years ago

      Hello Andrew. Not sure exactly what you mean by “mess your insides up”, but when performed correctly (preferable under the close eye of a certified rehab professional the first few times) I think dead bugs can be effective tool in the battle of improving motor control and teaching smaller, important stabilizer muscles to do their job. However, this really depends on the individuals weaknesses to begin with. It is also one of the most commonly butchered exercises. What I mean by that is that it can easily be performed incorrectly and end up causing more harm that good. My personal opinion is to make sure you know what your weaknesses are, then make sure if your weaknesses are addressed by this exercise that you perform it correctly. I came across this article a while back and it was one of the better one’s I have read in regards to this specific exercise. This will help you to better understand the “dead bug” exercise and it also goes into great detail about correct form. http://www.tonygentilcore.com/blog/deadbugs-the-what-why-and-how/

      Thanks for commenting and I hope that helps!

  5. Sharon Kelly
    1 year ago

    Hello, I was diagnosed with Spondylolisthesis about 4 years ago. I’ve had 18 weeks of Chiropractic Therapy which was soothing but, I did not get the results I expected. However, I wasn’t expecting a cure all with regards for my Spondylolisthesis, I did have the expectancy of an enhanced range of motion. My problem is with i believe, L4 & L5 creating the narrowing of my spine near my tail bone. Since researching and understanding my diagnosis, I’ve come to understand that; moderate exercise and walking along with certain stretches, targeting the affected areas gives me that extra range of motion, releasing a good bit of my tightness and radiation in my thighs, hips, sides of my legs and ankle areas. I also incorporated the inversion table after exercise or walking. My research from different sources with regards to Spondylolisthesis and inversion therapy. I do have high blood pressure and have discussed it w/my doctor. My pressure is fine as checked before inversion and after, there seems to be no problems. My routine is; 1 hour or so if treadmill w/ incline, 2 to 3 minutes of planking then inversion lastly so far so good. Now that I’m trying the stretches and the roller, I pulled back from the walking because I believe the combination of my routine or, I’m doing to much is causing more of theach radiating in my affected areas. Granted I’ve only been stretching just this week, it’s possible that those areas will gradually adjust. I did stretches mostly w/out the roller because it is uncomfortable in certain areas. I will check out the forums and videos on how to properly use it. With this information, is inversion therapy safe for my Spondylolisthesis and will it help to improve my condition. I have been using inversion and treadmill walking with no incline with no problems. Imy not totally pain free in those areas but certainly tolerable and energized. With that said, the walking isn’t enough because my body does tense in those areas increased by certain moves, simple chores or anything that aggravates the affected areas. I am 55 and in pretty good physical shape with exception to the Spondylolisthesis. I seriously need to incorporate a stretching or exercise program that will help keep my total body aligned and flexible. My MRI showed some arthritis as well as other medical terminology that I can’t recall at this time. My doctor did discuss the possibility of a surgery as aneeded option at a later time if needed. I’ve explored other spine institutes as the reviewed my MRI. Of course they offered the small incision surgery as an alternative. What would be an effective workout plan with regards to my condition?

    • SpondyInfo
      1 year ago

      Hi Sharon. Thanks for finding the site and I hope you find it helpful in your journey to move and feel better. As far as workout plans go, the #1 option in my opinion is to get a full body screen by a medical professional who has a proper certification. They can then tailor a program to your exact needs – which helps to attack the issues head on. Here is more info on how to do that:https://spondyinfo.com/locate-rehab-professional-spondy/

      If you prefer a home program we have designed a home based Spondy Exercise Program that targets all of the problematic areas for Spondy Patients. You can learn more about that here: https://spondyinfo.com/spondy-home-exercise-program-2/

      I hope this helps and thanks for commenting!

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