Ankylosing Spondylitis is a long term condition, it’s very important for you to find something that you really enjoy doing to stay motivated and not give up. Before taking up any kind of exercise consult your physiotherapist to make sure it’s the best fit for your needs. Also, before joining any classes make sure you speak to your instructors about your AS and how some exercises might need to be adjusted.
If you’re still not sure what kind of exercises you want to do for your AS, here’s a choice of the top 10 best kinds of physical activity for you.
Swimming is widely considered as the best activity for AS.
It improves your general fitness, flexibility and strength in a safe, low impact environment. Front crawl and back crawl are considered the best strokes for people with AS to use, while butterfly and breast strokes you might want to avoid.
Let’s stay in the water, hydrotherapy might have a ‘therapy’ in its name but it’s a great form of exercise.
The water supports your body, provides shock absorption and makes exercises safer, more enjoyable and relaxing. With less strain on the joints, you can exercise more without pain and a risk of damaging your joints. At the same time water acts as resistance and helps to build your muscles. If you feel like that’s not enough or you can’t find hydrotherapy around your area you may consider water aerobics.
If you enjoy the great British outdoors, hiking in the countryside and pubs, Nordic walking can be a good choice for you.
It’s a much more intensive than normal walking. You use specially designed poles as a support with a technique that is similar to the classic cross country skiing. It results in a full body workout, without putting any stress on the joints.
Cycling can improve your general fitness and stamina, help you lose some weight as well as improve your mood.
However, check with your physiotherapist if cycling would be suitable for you, especially if you’re experiencing a lot of pain and stiffness or you already have some fusions. Also keep in mind you might have to adjust the bicycle to your personal needs before you start your journey. Getting some cool mirrors and a colourful gel saddle is a good start.
You can also use our guides that include a variety of exercises tailored for AS if you’d rather exercise with your friends in the gym.
Always try to consult your physio to make sure you do it properly. You can also get your family, partner or friends involved. I’m sure they could use some extra physical activity as well!
Yoga offers gentle stretching, helps with posture, balance and flexibility.
It also improves breathing techniques which improve chest expansion. Yoga can also calm you dawn, help you relax and understand your body better. It’s also very instagramable.
If yoga is not chilled enough for you try Tai Chi, a Chinese martial art, consisting of gentle, fluid movements that are relaxed and slow in their rhythm.
It will improve your balance, flexibility, posture, muscle strength, breathing, cardiovascular function and mental state. It might not be the most effective fighting style but will make you feel like Marvel’s Dr Strange!
Now on the other hand if you’re looking at something way more active, how about dancing?
As long as you keep it low impact (no crazy breakdance moves) the right kind of dance can help your flexibility, coordination, posture and burn loads of calories. It can be anything from belly dancing or Zumba to salsa.
Pilates classes are low impact, using positions of lying and sitting to teach awareness of breath control, spinal alignment and strengthening of the trunk.
They focus on core stability and postural control through strengthening the muscles that support the spine. It’s way more fun than it sounds.
CrossFit is a popular form of physical activity.
While we wouldn’t recommend a full CrossFit workout, some beginner classes slightly adjusted towards AS needs can be a great form of strengthening exercise. Keep in mind circuit training is quite physically demanding and competitive.