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Your number one defense against spondylitis pain and stiffness is to get moving. Rest and couch-potato inactivity allow your joints to start fusing together, which is what you need to avoid with ankylosing spondylitis. Ruth Kadanoff, MD, professor of rheumatology at the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago, says, “The type of movement is not as important as the frequency. You need to be doing some type of exercise twice a day. The best exercise is a low-impact type of exercise like walking.” Make simple exercise a daily habit, just like brushing your teeth, and you’ll be well on your way to relieving lower back pain.
The next step after correcting your posture is to follow a more comprehensive physical therapy program for ankylosing spondylitis relief. “We now know that spondylitis also includes an increased risk for osteoporosis and heart disease. That means you can really benefit from a complete program that includes aerobic exercise, range of motion exercise, and strength training,” says Papchristos. Besides targeting lower back pain, bone health, and heart health, a physical therapy program may include deep breathing exercises to prevent your rib cage from stiffening.
Take to Water
Exercises that are good for lower back pain and spondylitis on land are usually even better in a pool. Swimming is a great low-impact aerobic exercise for ankylosing spondylitis. “Studies consistently show that water exercises are the best types of exercise for spondylitis pain and stiffness,” says Papachristos. A survey published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology illustrates this: Researchers found that the most common exercise for people with spondylitis is walking, but the most effective for relieving pain and the most enjoyable is exercising in a pool. Many gyms offer water exercise classes, or you can ask a doctor or physical therapist for suggestions of exercises to do in a pool.
Learn a Mind-Body Exercise
If you’re mostly familiar with cardiovascular and strength training, exercises like tai chi and qi gong may seem foreign at first, but these wellness disciplines could help you find a better balance between mind and body. Mind-body exercises can help you learn to listen to your body, reduce the stress of spondylitis pain, and avoid injury. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, these exercises have been shown to improve bone health, balance, prevent falls, and make your heart and lungs stronger — all good things for anyone with ankylosing spondylitis pain and stiffness.
Thanks to : Chris Iliades, MD