person doing crunches surrounded by fire

Strengthening Your Core Without Causing a Flare: Part Two

Learn the basics in Strengthening Your Core: Part 1 here!

In part one, I focused on what makes up the core, and gentle ways to begin to engage these muscles. I am going to provide a few more of my go-to core exercises with various modifications. Keep in mind that if you are having a bad pain day or a flare, sticking to the beginner exercises will probably be best tolerated. Listen to your body. My hope is that every age, stage of AS, and ability will be able to benefit from this to some capacity. As always, seek the advice of a medical professional if you have any specific questions and before beginning a new exercise program!

Dying bug

This is a progression of the dead bug discussed in part one. Perform 10-20 times. If you can perform 20 times without pain, or your back arching progress yourself to the next progression.

Beginner: Lay on your back. Activate the transversus abdominis. Lift both legs so your hips and knees are bent to 90 degrees. Reach both arms straight up towards the ceiling. Do not allow your back to arch. Now tap one heel towards the table, return to start, and continue to alternate sides.

Person demonstrating Dying Bug Pose.

Intermediate: Perform same as above but now add in an opposite arm reach overhead.

Advanced: Start out in the beginner’s position. Extend one knee so that the heel approaches the floor, leg is straight, as you reach the opposite arm overhead. Return to the starting position, and switch sides.


Try to hold for at least 5 seconds. Repeat 10-20 times.

Beginner: Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your buttocks together, press your low back into the floor tucking your hips under, and then raise your buttocks off of the floor. Your knees, hips, and shoulders should form a straight line.

Person demonstrating Bridge Pose.

Intermediate 1 (Bridge with hip adduction): Same starting position as above. Place a ball or pillow folded in half between your knees. Squeeze the object gently as you raise your buttocks off the floor.

Intermediate 2 (Modified single-legged bridge): Same starting position as beginner. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Lift your hips pressing through the heel that is planted. Switch sides.

Advanced (Single legged bridge): Same starting position as beginner. Straighten out one leg so that the knee is extended and at the same height as your planted leg. Lift up your buttocks, return to start, and repeat.


Try to hold for at least 5 seconds. Repeat 10-20 times.

Beginner (arms only): Start on your hands and knees. Your hands should be flat and in line with your shoulders. Your knees should be directly under your hips. Activate your transversus abdominis (discussed in part one). Raise one arm with elbow straight out in front of you so that the arm is next to your ear. Place the hand back down and switch sides.

Person demonstrating Bird-Dog Pose.

Intermediate (legs only): Start in position above. Slide on leg back behind you so the knee is straight and lift the leg up. Repeat on the other side. Be careful not to lift the leg too high to avoid arching your back. Your back should stay flat so that a yardstick or book placed on the back would not fall off during the movement.

Advanced (arms and legs): Start in beginner position. Lift one arm and the opposite leg. Return to start, and alternate sides.

Happy exercising!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

How long was your longest flare?