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9 Exercise and Posture Tips for Ankylosing Spondylitis

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Healthgrades Editorial Staff on February 15, 2022
  • If the Shoe Fits, running shoe
    Keep Moving to Ease Arthritis of the Spine
    Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you have ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Pain, stiffness, and discomfort can make it difficult to move around. But did you know that once you get started and make exercise a part of your daily life, it can actually improve your symptoms? Here are 9 tips to make exercise work for you.
  • Layer on Therapy
    1. Talk With Your Health Care Provider
    Make sure you get the OK to exercise before starting a new program. Talk with your health care provider or physical therapist about what’s appropriate for you. Ask your health professional which exercises you should do, and ask him or her to check that you’re doing them right.
  • Male athlete sitting on track
    2. Find Time
    Get to know your body and focus on the exercises you need most—whether that’s strengthening or stretching. You may benefit from a combination of the two. Try exercising at different times of the day to find the time that’s best for your body.
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  • Carpet
    3. Get Comfortable
    Find a soft spot where you can perform your workout, such as a carpeted floor or an exercise mat. These provide cushion and protection for your spine. A firm bed works, too. A mattress that’s too soft may not provide you enough support when you’re doing your exercises.
  • Two Routes to Bone Pain
    4. Assess Your Pain
    When starting an exercise program, it’s normal to feel some discomfort or mild pain. But you can also overdo it. Start slowly with a low number of repetitions and work up to more week after week. If your pain increases after exercise, you may have pushed yourself too hard. Try fewer repetitions next time.
    5. Vary Your Workouts
    Create a program that combines strengthening and stretching exercises. Strengthening exercises build the muscles that support your joints. Stretching exercises improve movement and flexibility, and reduce stiffness. If you have pain in your spine, exercises that stretch and extend your back can help.
  • Stretch and strengthen
    6. Hit the Water
    Many people with AS enjoy exercising in water. If you’ve had trouble sticking to an exercise plan due to discomfort, see if water workouts feel better for you. You may enjoy swimming laps or taking a water aerobics class. Just be sure not to push yourself too hard.
  • man in field
    7. Focus on Your Posture All Day
    Think tall all day. To make sure your posture is in check, keep your head up so it’s directly over your torso. Pull your chin back slightly, so it’s parallel to the floor. Keep this in mind whether you’re sitting, standing, walking, or exercising.
  • 9 Exercise and Posture Tips for Ankylosing Spondylitis
    8. Use the Wall
    Try this posture-improving move: Stand with your back against a wall. Walk forward, so that your heels are about 4 inches away from the wall. Then, lean backward until your buttocks and shoulders are very lightly touching the wall. Hold for 5 seconds, release, and repeat.
  • Young Caucasian woman lying flat on mat
    9. Get on the Floor
    "Prone lying" promotes healthy posture. Lie face down on a firm surface like a carpeted floor. Place your head in a comfortable position, either with your forehead straight down or turned to the left or right. Hold this position for at least a minute. Work up to 20 minutes a day. If your head is facing to the right or left, turn it the opposite way halfway through.
9 Exercise and Posture Tips for Ankylosing Spondylitis
  1. Questions and Answers about Ankylosing Spondylitis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

  2. About Ankylosing Spondylitis. Spondylitis Association of America.

  3. Exercise and Posture. Spondylitis Association of America.
  4. Patient Resource Exercise. Spondylitis Association of America.

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Last Review Date: 2022 Feb 15
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.