Running may not be a physical activity for everyone with ankylosing spondylitis. The high impact of this exercise can cause extra stress on the joints of the legs and the spine. However, many people not only find running beneficial but clearly develop a passion for it! If you want to run with AS these are our top tips:
1. Chat to your physiotherapist and get advice that’s directly tailored for you. If you’re attending a gym or having a personal trainer don’t forget to pass this information to whoever’s helping with your training.
2. Buy the best running trainers you can afford and make sure you replace them regularly. No matter if you’re a pro or just want to be more active, good shoes can make a world of difference, especially if you’re living with AS. Here’s a list of the best running shoes of 2017.
3. Start gently. The NHS Couch to 5k programme offers great advice on starting running and motivates you towards specific goal!
4. Think about running on softer surfaces rather than pounding the tarmac.
5. Pre-plan your run using a tool like Map My Run so you avoid overdoing it. It’s also great to help you track your progress and help you with proper pacing of your exercises. Have a look at this list of the best running apps of 2017.
6. Listen to your body and cut back on your training if you are in flare. There’s no point in forcing yourself and pushing your body to the limits if that leads to weeks of suffering and no exercise at all!
7. Thinking about walking or running in a pool instead. Water can not only help you strengthen your muscles through resistance, but it also reduces stress on joints.
8. Avoid using a treadmill to run as it tends to encourage a ‘pounding action’ which can be damaging.
9. If you use a treadmill try walking uphill instead of running.
10. Don’t just concentrate on running. Try to include a range of different exercises into your daily regime including stretching, yoga, pilates, swimming or cycling.
Running not for you?
Running certainly doesn’t suit everyone. You might find it causes you to flare, is painful or just isn’t something you enjoy.
To benefit from the potential anti-inflammatory effect of exercise you need to ensure you are exercising briskly for 20 minutes a day, 5 times a week. You might prefer walking, swimming, cycling or something else entirely.
It’s all about finding a form of exercise that you enjoy, that you can fit into your daily life and which benefits your AS rather than worsening your symptoms.