Exercise Guidelines for Ankylosing Spondylitis

AS is a systemic inflammatory rheumatic disease involving spinal & sacral joints. Subjects may have decreased range of flexion, extension, & rotation causing the risk of spinal fracture to dramatically increase. Disc injuries are also more prevalent. In the majority of individuals, back pain is self-limiting. Once back pain exacerbates, they are more likely to decrease activity levels, which leads to compensations by other body structures and tissues. Finally poor, inefficient movement patterns lead to further injury cycles.

Exercise has shown in clinical studies to improve function, decrease pain & stiffness in subjects with anklosed spondylitis. Training programs should be focused on stability & strength of the core, & improving balance. This will allow for greater posture control in multiple planes of motion. It is important to condition through multiple planes of motion because simple every day activities do not occur in one plane of motion. The rigidity through the spine limits range of motion & increases the risk of spinal fracture or disc injury. Exercise is not intended to correct this condition. Proper conditioning can make the symptoms less painful & in most cases, improve function in daily activity more efficiently. Do not force any range of motion with exercise & consult with your local physical therapist, experienced trainer and/or physician for further contraindications of particular movements.