Contact sports and high impact exercise

Contact sports and high impact exercises are not generally recommended for people with AS

Contact sports include rugby, karate, hockey and wrestling to name but a few.

People with AS must exercise caution when considering playing contact sports.  This is because having AS means that you are at greater risk of having thinner bones (osteoporosis). During contact sports you may experience hard knocks and blows that may cause a bone to break.

People with AS may also have stiffening of the spine. This means that you may be at risk of breaking one of the bones in your spine (your vertebrae) during contact sports. 

If you do take part in contact sports then do discuss it with your physiotherapist and get their advice for you as an individual.

High impact sports

High impact sports include netball, step aerobics, basketball, football, boxercise, squash and tennis.

All of these sports involve pounding actions, including running, which can cause extra stress on the joints of the legs and the spine. This in turn can lead people with AS to experience a flare up in their condition, that is, more pain.

If you are already competing in these sports you must monitor your symptoms and be open to seeking alternative forms of exercise if these activities do cause your AS to flare up. It is possible that your body's tolerance to the sport may change over time and you find that the sport causes you pain when this never used to be the case. Continuing to push yourself in an activity that causes your condition to worsen will not benefit you in the long term.

Caution should be taken if you are considering doing these sports for the first time. It would be wise to seek advice from your physiotherapist before taking part.

You should not take part in high impact sports if you are experiencing a flare up in your condition. An alternative form of lower impact exercise should be considered for the period of time that you are experiencing a flare up.

Last reviewed: September 2012