Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms associated with ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis primarily occurring in early adulthood and affecting men more than women. Exercise tends to be an effective method of pain management, and it can also help increase muscle strength and joint flexibility as the condition advances. Los Angeles spine surgeons have put together a list of 4 exercises to try if you have ankylosing spondylitis.
1. Standing and Lying Postures
These types of exercises involve holding a certain position to enhance posture and spine alignment, and they can be performed while standing or lying down:
- Standing posture exercises – Stand in front of a full-length mirror near a wall and stand on your heels. Keep your buttocks and shoulders close to the wall without forcing the posture. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat.
- Lying posture exercises – Lie on a flat, firm surface (firm mattress or mat on the floor) and turn your head to a comfortable position. Remain face down for about 15 to 20 minutes or however long feels comfortable.
Yoga is a therapeutic form of exercise that promotes relaxation and flexibility through gentle, controlled movements. If you’re new to yoga, take a beginner class to learn the basics so you can safely perform the different postures and motions. Poses that may help relieve ankylosing spondylitis-related pain include:
- Slow backward bends and arm stretches (sun salutations)
- Forward stretches from a kneeling position (child’s pose)
- Gentle spine stretches on all fours (cow pose)
Walking is a form of exercise most people can do at any pace. Try to stick to flat surfaces and pay attention to your posture as you walk, keeping your head and shoulders aligned. Naturally swing your arms to achieve the right balance.
Swimming is a gentle form of exercise that can increase flexibility and spine strength without too much pressure. The breaststroke in particular can increase chest expansion, which ankylosing spondylitis sometimes affects. Water-based aerobics can produce similar results.
Ankylosing spondylitis pain can also be minimized by reducing pressure on your spine in your daily life. Using ergonomically designed chairs, avoiding sitting in the same position for long periods, and taking 10 to 20 minute breaks to stretch and walk around may provide welcome relief.
If you have ankylosing spondylitis or another condition causing pain in your back, get in touch with Dr. Bae at the Spine Institute. Dr. Bae specializes in fusion procedures like the XLIF and ALIF surgery Los Angeles patients sometimes receive. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an in-person evaluation.