According to the Spondyloarthritis Association, about 2.7 million people have ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine. Ankylosing spondylitis symptoms, such as joint pain and stiffness, are often worst in the morning. This is because, unlike other types of back pain, which improve after rest, back pain due to illness worsens after periods of inactivity. In this article, we’ll look at stretching and exercise for ankylosing spondylitis.
While anti-inflammatory drugs can help relieve pain and inflammation in joints, other modes of action, such as physical therapy, can also naturally relieve pain and inflammation. “Symptoms of ankylosing spondyloarthritis can be managed with conservative care such as physical therapy, chiropractic care and acupuncture,” says Joshua Kollmann of the Sports Clinic and Chiropractic Team for the NFL Carolina Panthers. “The sooner this type of care occurs after diagnosis, the greater the ability it should show in relieving discomfort and pain
Exercises for ankylosing spondylitis – stretching
A range of stretching and movement exercises can reduce the stiffness of your joints and help you maintain flexibility and maintain good posture.
“In general, any movement activity that doesn’t worsen your symptoms or impede your movement is good,” says Zachary Long, a physical therapist at the North Carolina Sports Clinic. Kollmann and Long use Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) in people with ankylosing spondylitis.
Kollman says these types of stretches are more effective than static stretches – or stretching and holding that position for a period of time. He says that static segments do not have the ability to go deep into the joint capsule and muscle tissue, for example, CARs. “When you ask someone who already has joint stiffness and reduced active range of motion in the morning to do a series of static stretches, you risk increasing their discomfort and pain,” he says. “SWRs, however, increase intra-articular fluid and blood flow to muscles and help lengthen soft tissues. This is the movement we are looking for in people with ankylosing spondylitis. ”
Morning stretching for ankylosing spondylitis
Kollman suggests trying the following sequential exercises for ankylosing spondyloarthritis, primarily in the morning, to relieve muscle and joint stiffness:
- Rotation of the neck.
Start by standing straight with your hands on your hips. Standing with slight tension throughout your body, slowly rotate your head clockwise for two turns. Perform two turns in the opposite direction while maintaining tension in the body.
Note: Tension in the body helps to focus on the joint that is in motion and create as much mobility as possible in that one joint. Approximately 30 to 40 percent of the entire body is in total concentration.
- Rotation of the shoulders .
Keeping the tension of 30-40% in your body, stand up straight, and put your left hand on your side. Keeping your arm straight, slowly move your hand up in an arc in front of you until your arm is extended and is in the air. With your arm upright, begin to twist your arm backward as if you were doing a backstab. Repeat on the right side. This increases blood flow and is beneficial in the disease of ankylosing spondylitis.
- Spine Stretch .
Stand up straight and cross your arms over your chest. Bend slightly forward using only your spine, not your hips. Move the brisket down towards the stomach. While in a bent position, gently bend your spine to one side. Bend, twist, and side bend to the other side for one rep. Maintain 30 to 40 percent of the tension in your body throughout this entire area.
- Hip circles.
While standing, lift your right knee up at a 90-degree angle (as much as you can). When in place, keep your knee in a 90-degree position and push your knee away from your body. Then lift your leg up towards the ceiling. This creates internal rotation in the hip joint. When the hip joint rotates inwardly, lift your leg behind your body and return to the start. With each repetition, a full thigh circle will be created. Remember to maintain full body tension by moving your hip through its full range of motion. Repeat with the left leg. Hold onto a wall or chair if necessary.
To make these areas even more effective, try doing them after your morning shower or bath. According to the National Society for Ankylosing Spondylitis, warm water can help relax tense muscles and ease joint stiffness.