There are different types of arthritis and Ankylosing spondylitis or AS, as it is known is a serious illness that affects the spine. Apart from the spine it also can affect other joints in the various parts of the body. It is a disease which causes the joints of the spine to become inflamed resulting in stiffness and pain.
In many cases the disease is mild in nature and does not impede the day to day functioning. On the other hand it could lead do deformation of the back bone or vertebrae which is also referred to as kyphosis.
This is a situation where the upper spine gets rounded. This condition could also lead certain parts of the body such as heels, hands, hips and shoulders being badly affected. The disease has no permanent cure and can be managed through medication and physical exercises which can reduce the level of disability.
Let us look at the various exercises which could help such patients to lead a better quality of life.
Exercise plays a very important role in managing AS successfully. These exercises play a role in improving the posture and are considered very important.
1. Wall Stance
The most common exercise is to stand near a wall and try to touch your buttocks, mid back and shoulder blades against the wall simultaneously. You could also try and touch the back of the head against the wall too. You could take the help of a mirror to ensure that your body remains straight and you do not tilt your head back while doing these exercises.
2. Prone Arm and Leg Lifts
Prone Arm and Leg Lifts are another group of exercises that also offer good relief from AS. These exercises are performed on the floor and they certainly assist in strengthening your postural muscles. It is recommended that you lie on the bed and perform these exercises rather than making use of beds which could too soft and will not provide you with required back support.
You could start by lying flat on your stomach. This will help you to stretch the front portion of your body. Once you are comfortable with this, you could try lifting one arm at a time and follow it up with one leg at a time. You could also try alternate between one leg and one arm if it is possible. Use of pillow beneath your hips can help in preventing excessive arching of the back.
3. Hip and Leg Stretches
The next set of exercises that are considered very useful for effective management of AS are Hip and Leg stretches. This helps making the muscles in your back legs and hips become supple. Because the muscles become stiff due to lack of exercise these hip and leg stretches can be very useful. A few yoga postures such as cow stretch or yoga cat can help in stretching the hamstring and hip muscles.
These exercises could be done either by lying on the floor in sitting in a chair. It would also be advisable to take the help of a physical therapist because AS affects different areas for various persons. Taking the help of these specialists will enable you to make small changes wherever necessary.
4. Deep Breathing Exercises
Deep breathing exercises are also considered very effective in releasing the stiffness of the spinal column and your ribs that are attached to your spine. Good yoga postures or Tai Chi exercises can certainly help you in helping your movements. The best part about these breathing exercises is that it can be practiced almost any time of the day and it also plays a big role in keeping your lungs strong. You could also try lying on a pile of pillows when practicing such breathing exercises. Doing so will help you become relaxed and help expand the chest.
Lastly there are a number general mobility exercises which have been found to be very effective in fighting AS. These exercises assist you in moving the entire body and will certainly help to keep your joints flexible. It will also strengthen your muscles and aid posture and balance.
Simple exercises like walking, swimming or using the treadmill certainly can be very helpful. If you suffer from stiffness or pain which prevents you from doing these common exercises, you could try taking a warm show in a hot tub to soothe and relax muscles.