4 Exercises for Retrolisthesis

Retrolisthesis is a very rare medical condition. It is a degenerative spinal disc condition. Retrolisthesis mostly commonly occurs in the lower area of the spine; however, it occurs in cervical region too and very rarely in the thoracic region. Retrolisthesis occurs when the discs present between the vertebrae get deteriorated. The support which the vertebrae get is lost due to the damage of the soft intervertebral discs due to which the vertebrae move either forward or backward. This is known as the vertebral slippage. Since the vertebrae move out of their place, it puts pressure on the bone below it. This backward displacement of intervertebral disc with regards to the adjacent vertebrae is known as retrolisthesis. However, the displacement is not to the extent of dislocation but lesser than that. One of the conservative treatment approach for retrolisthesis is physiotherapy exercises. There are certain exercises that can help relieve the symptoms of retrolisthesis.

4 Exercises for Retrolisthesis

4 Exercises for Retrolisthesis

The physiotherapist will offer different types of exercises to perform. These maybe either be self-directed or assisted forms of exercises. The physical therapist needs to approve the exercises, so that the patient does not perform an incorrect type of movement. The three of the physical exercises to be performed include:

  1. Lower Back Roll Exercise for Retrolisthesis: This is a stretching exercise to relieve lower back pain. This exercise for retrolisthesis is to be performed in the following ways:

    • One needs to lie down on the back and bring the knees slowly to the chest and fasten the hands behind the knees.
    • The body is to be rolled to the left slowly and then it goes back to the original position.
    • After rest for 5 minutes, this exercise is repeated on the right side.
  2. Hip Roll Exercise for Retrolisthesis: The hip joints and pelvis region need to be made strong when diagnosed with lower back pain. To do this exercise for Retrolisthesis:

    • One should stand with hands onto a wall.
    • The left leg is to be slightly bent at the knee such that only the ball of the foot is touching the ground, while the right leg is straight on the floor and bears most of the weight.
    • Now, the left knee is to be rotated slowly outward and then inwards.
    • This exercise for retrolisthesis should be repeated by changing the legs.
  3. Pelvic Tilts: This exercise for Retrolisthesis is recommended to improve the strength of the lower back.

    • One needs to lie down on the soft mat spread on the floor.
    • One should bend the knees and pull the abdomen in towards the floor.
    • Now, rock the top of the pelvis upwards slightly.
    • One should be in this position for 10 seconds and then relax.
    • This exercise helps to relieve the pain and loosen the stiff joints.
  4. Self Myofascial Release Exercise: A muscle spasm can pull the misaligned vertebrae out of position. It can be treated with Robb Myofascial release technique with the help of a chiropractor. To do this Retrolisthesis exercise:

    • One should lie flat on the floor with face up and the foam roller positioned below the lower back.
    • Then knees are to be bent and the feet should be flat on the floor. The legs should push the roller so that it is rolled slowly up the spine.
    • One should stop in case of pain experienced while doing this.


Retrolisthesis is a medical condition where the vertebrae are misaligned. Although, few severe cases require surgical intervention, most other cases can be managed with the specific exercises. These exercises should be learnt from expert physiotherapist or chiropractors. Following which when practiced, these prove beneficial to the patients.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 8, 2017

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