Exercise

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This information is for anyone with axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) including people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS)

Exercise is the single most important thing you can do to help yourself

Axial SpA (AS) is a condition for life and during its course it may affect you differently at different times. The fitter and more flexible you are, the better able you will be to deal with your symptoms.

To manage your axial SpA (AS) well it’s not enough to rely on medication. You also have to exercise.

Benefits of exercise

  • Increased flexibility – the more flexible you are the easier it is to do everyday tasks
  • Increased range of movement – the more mobility you have the easier it is to do things
  • Improved posture – better posture makes you feel better in yourself and reduces feelings of self consciousness
  • Improved sleep – exercise is physically tiring which improves sleep quality, ensuring you wake feeling refreshed
  • Reduction in stiffness and pain – exercise can result in less pain at night and improved sleep quality

The focus for exercise for people with axial SpA (AS) is on improving or maintaining your:

  • Range of movement in joints
  • Posture control
  • Muscle strength
  • Muscle length
  • Lung capacity
  • Balance
  • Cardiovascular fitness

Any exercise you decide to undertake needs to be regular, consistent and kept up over the long term. So, it’s important to choose something you enjoy.

Whipps Cross University Hospital’s Early Inflammatory Back Pain Service, run by Barts Health NHS Trust, has produced a video of specific exercises to help you maintain and improve flexibility and strength.

Read more