Ankylosing Spondylitis

Have you been diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis ? If so, these Ankylosing Spondylitis exercises are for you. Research strongly supports the use of physical therapy exercises as a key component to the treatment of AS. Because AS often results in the slow loss of back and hip extension flexibility, the focus of the program is to maintain and improve this mobility.

As part of an overall back pain treatment program remember to minimize aggravating activities. With AS, avoid exercises and activities that emphasize lumbar and hip flexion. Doing typical abdominal crunches should specifically be avoided.

In addition, reducing inflammation is a key part to reducing pain. Utilize ice therapy to minimize inflammation by applying ice to the lower back, 10 to 15 minutes at a time, three times a day. As always, anti-inflammatory medication can also be helpful so consult your doctor regarding appropriate medication.

When performing each stretch you should feel a mild ‘pull’ but NO PAIN. If you do feel pain, reduce the intensity of the stretch. If pain continues, stop performing the stretch.

The stretching exercises listed below are in order of difficulty. Although prone lying is the first exercise listed, if this exercise becomes too easy you can progress immediately to the prone on elbows exercises.

Prone Lying

Prone Lying

Find a firm place such as the floor to do this exercise. Lie on your stomach with a pillow supporting your mid section. Maintain this position for 30 seconds to a few minutes. If this position is easy, try lying on you stomach without the pillow. Repeat this a few times a day.

Prone On Elbows Stretch

Prone On Elbows Stretch

Find a firm place such as the floor to do this exercise. Lie on your stomach with your upper body propped up by your elbows with your elbows positioned directly under your shoulders. Try to keep your pelvis in contact with the ground. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a few minutes. Repeat this a few times a day.

Low Back Press Ups

Prone Press Ups

Find a firm place such as the floor to do this exercise. While lying on your stomach, use your arms to push your upper body off the floor. Lift as far as you can without having your pelvis lose contact with the floor. Pause for a few seconds at the top. Repeat this exercise 10 times a few times per day.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip Flexor Stretch

For best results, perform this exercise on the floor with a pillow under your knee. To stretch your left hip flexor, position yourself in a half kneeling position with your left knee on a pillow and your right leg bent supporting you. Keep your lower back in a neutral position. Shift your weight forward, with the focus of moving from your pelvis. You should feel a stretch in the front of your left hip. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Repeat this stretch three times on each leg, two times a day.

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References for Ankylosing Spondylitis Exercises

Ann Rheum Dis. 2011 Jun;70(6):896-904.2010 update of the ASAS/EULAR recommendations for the management of ankylosing spondylitis

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2011 Mar;23(2):142-7.Physiotherapy for ankylosing spondylitis: evidence and application.Passalent LA

Int J Rheum Dis. 2009 Sep;12(3):207-10.The effectiveness of exercise therapy for ankylosing spondylitis: a review.Wang CY, Chiang PY, Lee HS, Wei JC