Therapy might help restore mobility in spinal stenosis

Fitness Q & A

Health & Fitness

May 16, 2004|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

I have spinal stenosis. My lower spine doesn't hurt, but I have no mobility. I'm 80 years old and in good health otherwise. I do exercises each morning like marching and bending my knees. I would like to know what other exercises I could do.

Spinal stenosis -- the narrowing of the spinal canal -- can squeeze the nerve roots in the spine or the spinal cord itself. This pinching can weaken the lower body and cause numbness and / or severe leg pain.

While it's good news that you are pain-free, physical therapist Jennifer Kline of Physiotherapy Associates in Lutherville strongly recommends meeting with a trainer or physical therapist to begin a flexibility program. Ask your physician for a referral.

Building on the exercise you're already doing, a stretching program focusing on flexibility for the back and legs could do wonders to ease your lower back and leg stiffness and help restore mobility.

My daughter eats a lot of sugar. She's slender and generally healthy, but I worry about the sugar. What can I do to help her cut back?

Last year the World Health Organization recommended limiting intake of added sugar to 10 percent of daily calories, roughly the equivalent of one dessert or one can of soda.

Unless she has a supercharged metabolism, your daughter is probably eating sugary foods in place of healthier ones. To start, encourage her to snack on fruit or yogurt instead of candy bars and cola.

If she has to drink soda, make it diet, because a single can of soda has roughly seven teaspoons of sugar. Identify foods that she enjoys that are not sweet, and introduce her to new foods. Finally, go grocery shopping together. That way you can keep the kitchen stocked with foods that she enjoys but that aren't loaded with sugar.

Does the "Subway Diet" really work? It may have worked for Jared, their ad pitchman, but I feel that eating lunch there several days a week makes me gain weight, not lose it.

There is no magic pill for weight loss. If you think one restaurant will magically solve your eating woes, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

While practically living at Subway may have helped Jared Fogle lose more than 150 pounds, he also began a regular exercise program and stuck to eating the chain's lowfat subs. If you order a 12-inch meatball sub, chips, soda and a chocolate chunk cookie daily, of course you'll gain weight.

The reason Subway gained so much attention is that it was one of the pioneers in offering choices in fast food. But today, almost all chains offer healthier choices (meatless burgers, wraps, salads and yogurt parfaits, for instance).

The moral? It's what you eat, not where you eat it.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail fitness@

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