Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory condition that can cause the tissues that attach to the spine to swell. Over time, this can lead to bone formation and possibly fusing of the vertebrae. This type of arthritis can result in a loss of flexibility. See Doctor Jo’s blog post about this at: http://www.askdoctorjo.com/ankylosing-spondylitis
These simple stretches and exercises can help improve range of motion and decrease pain.
The first stretch is called the pelvic tilt. You will roll back onto your back with your knees bent. You want to imagine pushing your belly button into the ground, or push your back flat onto the ground like you are squishing something. You can put your hand under the curve of your back, and try to push your back into your hand. Make sure you are breathing and not holding your breath while doing these exercises!
Next try some gentle trunk rotation stretches on your back with your knees bent in hooklying. Gently rotate your bent legs from side to side. You can hold them on each side for 3-5 seconds or you can continuously rotate them back and forth. Again, try to keep your lower back on the ground. You can start off with 10 and work your way up to 20-25.
Now you will do a bridge by pushing your bottom up off the ground, but try to do this slowly, and do one segment of your back at a time curling upward. Then slowly go down the same way, one segment at a time. You can start off with 10 of these, and then work your way up.
Still lying down on your back with your knees propped up, you are going to do a simple knee to chest stretch. Bring one knee towards your chest by grabbing underneath your knee and pulling up to you. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. You shouldn’t feel any pain, just a stretch through your lower back. You will stretch each leg three times. You can alternate back and forth or do them all on one side before switching.
Turn over in a prone position on your stomach. You will prop up on your elbows for a prone prop. Try to keep your hips down on the ground while your stomach and chest come off the ground. If the elbows are too much, you can come down slightly to where it is comfortable. Hold this for 30 seconds and do three. Then if that becomes easy, still in the same position, now come up into a push up position on your hands. Still try to keep your hips down on the ground if possible. This one is a little more stressful on the arms, so you might want to start off with 10-15 seconds, and work your way up from there.
For the last set of stretches, turn over onto all fours, or quadruped. The cat/cow or cat/dog stretch is performed by tucking your chin in and arching your back. Then drop your back down and lift your head looking forward. You can hold this for 10-15 seconds and alternate back and forth for about a minute.
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Doctor Jo is a Doctor of Physical Therapy.
Ankylosing Spondylitis Stretches & Exercises:
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