ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS (AS) DIET & EXERCISE

Besides finding appropriate medication, here are how diet and exercise can be part of an overall treatment plan for AS.

How diet may play a role in AS

To control inflammation caused by AS, the best path forward is to partner with your rheumatologist to find a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Some people with AS and other chronic inflammatory conditions found that certain foods trigger changes in symptoms. Keep a food diary to see if there are differences in symptoms—better or worse—and to detect possible food sensitivities. Enjoying anti-inflammatory foods—like fruits, vegetables, fish, and healthy fats—may reduce inflammation and help your body fight AS.

If you want some tasty anti-inflammatory recipes, sign up for your free Ankylosing Spondylitis Wellness Book.

 

Woman doing yoga
Person swimming laps
Man exercising with weights


The importance of exercise in AS

Getting regular exercise is vital in managing ankylosing spondylitis, as it can help prevent permanent stiffness and preserve range of motion in your back and neck. Exercise has been shown to help maintain mobility and range of motion, can improve general health and function, and plays a role in helping to prevent permanent stiffness related to ankylosing spondylitis.

Talk to your rheumatologist, who may recommend you see a physical therapist who can work with you on your overall exercise program. Here are a few exercises you can try:

  • Deep-breathing exercises and aerobic activities can help keep your chest and rib cage flexible.
  • Swimming can help keep your spine, neck, shoulders, and hips flexible.
  • Strength training and aerobic exercises are a good choice for overall health.
  • Yoga and other stress-reduction technologies like meditation, tai chi, and massage can help manage pain. Many people with AS report stress reduction is important to their ability to manage pain, as stress and anxiety can make symptoms worse.
  • Stretching, or range of motion exercises, can help you improve flexibility and reduce pain and stiffness—and can minimize the risk of fusion. Practicing good posture is also important, as it can help ease some pain and stiffness.

 

STRETCHES TO HELP YOU GET STARTED:

Kneeling lunge stretch

Start on both knees and move one leg forward, placing your foot flat on the ground. Keep your weight balanced through your hips and place both hands on top of your thigh and gently lean forward.

Person doing a kneeling lunge stretch.

Forward fold

Bring your arms up above your head and straighten them. Gently move your hands forward and down, bending at the middle and reaching for your feet until you feel the stretch.

Person doing a forward fold stretch.

Bending side stretch

Stand with your feet about hip distance apart. Raise one arm and gently bend over your head as you stretch your side. Try this a few times on both sides of your body.

Person doing a bening side stretch.

5 exercise tips for those with AS

Before starting a new exercise plan, discuss with your rheumatologist if it’s right for you.

  1. Exercises should be done daily (try it on a carpeted floor or mat)
  2. Learn to give priority to areas that need exercise the most
  3. Start new exercises carefully and begin with low repetitions
  4. To help avoid injury, don’t force your body into painful positions
  5. Move into stretches slowly and avoid bouncing (which can cause muscle strain)

GET HEALTHY RECIPES IN YOUR
FREE WELLNESS BOOK

Ankylosing Spondylitis wellness book

Sign up for a free Ankylosing Spondylitis Wellness Book—packed with easy, healthy recipes, and other resources to help those living with AS.

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I had to learn to trade off and substitute some things, like biking for stationary biking more often.

Noel
Real AS patient

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