Best Exercises For Ankylosing Spondylitis: The Ways To Get Moving With It

Best Exercises For Ankylosing Spondylitis

Definition Of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic condition that causes a stiffening of the spine, which could eventually lead to the fusion of the joints in the vertebrae. It is a type of arthritis that affects the spine. The term ankylosing means vertebral inflammation. The definition of ankylosing spondylitis thus perfectly describes the condition in which a patient’s spine and surrounding pelvic joints stiffen even to the point of fusion.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a condition that is a lifetime cross to carry for those who suffer from it. It is so debilitating that some may need surgery. But most try to manage through medications or physical therapy. An unfortunate few, though, may need that surgical procedure.

But life with Ankylosing Spondylitis need not be spent in a wheelchair or in total pain. As mentioned earlier, the pain can be managed through medications and exercise. It has been found that patients who do group exercises get an improvement in spinal movement and are able to reach the floor better than those who do not exercise at all. As for others, it seems that spa therapy is pretty effective. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAID’s prove to be helpful in actually easing the pain brought by Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Like any other back condition, ankylosing spondylitis tends to cripple the patient because of the pain, and because the back is one of the most important areas of support in the human body. Just like any other condition that brings back pain, ankylosing spondylitis renders some people flat on their backs for days because they could not function well. More so than other back conditions, because it is an arthritic disease. If you have experienced rheumatoid arthritis, then you know how painful your joints would feel. Imagine that on your spine, and remember the fact that the spine holds the roots to all the major nerve systems in the body, and you can imagine just how painful ankylosing spondylitis is.

The worse thing about ankylosing spondylitis is that it has symptoms so similar to other back conditions, that the doctors may have a hard time diagnosing it. It actually takes doctors considerable time and close monitoring of the symptoms to be able to properly diagnose ankylosing spondylitis. Some cases of ankylosing spondylitis actually get diagnosed in the stages of bone fusion only because it is only in those states that changes to the bones and joints show up in MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans.

But as stated earlier, ankylosing spondylitis need not cripple a patient’s life. It is but a matter of attitude. If one finds purpose, contentment, and joy in life despite this condition, despite any other chronic or terminal illnesses, then life need not be seen through eyes of despair. One just needs to be armed with information on how to deal with this illness, and conditions like these need not rule nor cage him or her.

When you have ankylosing spondylitis (AS), staying active is difficult—but it’s essential. Exercise, even a small amount, can help you maintain flexibility and posture.

Exercise has other benefits too: It keeps your heart healthy, lifts your mood, and helps you get a better night’s sleep.

You don’t have to complete a triathlon to be active…although that’s not impossible for some with AS. Just set aside a little time each day to keep moving and flexible.

Here are some ways to add activity to your life:

Best Exercises For Ankylosing Spondylitis

1. Take a deep breath. Deep breathing is an important way to maintain your lung capacity and keep your chest flexible. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Lay your hands on your ribcage and concentrate on feeling them move as your chest expands. Deep breathing is something you can do anytime, the even first thing in the morning when you’re feeling stiff.


2. Get in the pool. Swimming and aqua therapy are great options for those with AS. Not only does the water create buoyancy and gentle resistance for painful joints, but the warm, moist environment can ease stiffness and improve circulation.

Many pools offer water aerobics classes for all skill levels. If you prefer to swim laps but find that some strokes hurt your neck, try using a snorkel.


3. Practice prone lying. Prone lying, or lying face down, is a great exercise to help you maintain an erect posture. Lie facedown on the floor or a firm surface for a few minutes to start. Position your head, however, is comfortable for you—straight down, resting on your hands, or to the side. Work toward staying in this position for 20 minutes. Once you’ve practiced this for a while and feel comfortable with it, you can make it more advanced by lifting your head and shoulders up as far as you can. Try this for 10 repetitions.


4. Try tai chi or yoga. Both of these practices focus on gentle, controlled movements combined with spiritual centering. Tai chi is safe for just about anyone. Yoga has several different varieties, some of which may be too aggressive for those with AS. Talk with your doctor about which type might be best for you or search for a yoga instructor who is experienced in working with those who have chronic conditions.


5. Do stretching and strengthening exercises. It’s important that the muscles supporting and surrounding your affected joints be strong and flexible. Do exercises to stretch and strengthen the neck, shoulders, core, and hips. Add small weights or resistance bands for extra impact.


6. Take a walk. Just get out your door and around the block is good for you. If you don’t have the time or energy for a long walk, break it up; take a 10-minute walk at lunchtime and a 20-minute walk in the evening. If you need extra stability, you can give Nordic walking, which uses trekking poles, a try. Walking is also an excellent chance to practice good posture. Focus on “walking tall,” with your head up and your back straight.

Ankylosing spondylitis can be a difficult condition to manage, but making time for exercise can help you feel better right away and in the long term. Work with your doctor or physical therapist to find the exercise routine that will work best for you.

Best Exercises For Ankylosing Spondylitis: The Ways To Get Moving With It. Last Updated: 23/8/2017

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