How I Eased Myself Back Into Fitness After My AS Diagnosis
For the past few weeks, I have been working my way back into my fitness routine. Before the onset of my AS, I loved pushing my body to its limits and seeing it transform before my eyes. Lifting was a favorite past time of mine and something I looked forward to doing daily. I found lifting to be therapeutic in a way, and I honestly had never been in a healthier headspace than when I was consistently throwing heavyweights around.
Getting back to what I love
As my symptoms of AS have died down some, I decided it’s time to get back in the game. I know so many individuals in the community who benefit from moving their bodies every day, and I find that so inspiring! I’m even more inspired, now knowing how challenging it actually is. I’ve learned a lot about my limits and discovered just how much my AS has changed what my body is capable of.
Whether you were once a seasoned athlete or you’re just getting started with your fitness goals, these are the things I have learned through trial and error when getting back into an exercise routine with AS.
NOTE: I am not a certified personal trainer or medical professional. These are simply just a few tips that I have found to be helpful for me!
My tips for exercising with ankylosing spondylitis
1. Start light! Don’t go all-in on day one. Back in November I, for whatever reason, thought it would be a great idea to start where I left off 2 years ago with 10-15 lb dumbbells. Big mistake. This sent me into a horrible flare that lasted well over a week. My arms trembled and ached for days on end. This time around, I have started with only my bodyweight for my lower half and 6 lb dumbbells for my upper half. This has worked well for me.
2. If something hurts, stop. I have found anything that involves the use of my hip flexors is a no-no for me right now. Listening to your body is extremely important, especially when you have an arthritic condition such as AS.
3. Limit your time. When I was in my “prime”, I was lifting for 2 hours daily. Crazy, I know. My greatest concern is overdoing it, so I have decided to start at 15 minutes and work my way up weekly in 15-minute increments until I get up to an hour. Building stamina can reduce the risk of overdoing it and you’ll be able to gauge what your body can and can’t handle.
4. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t do what you once could. This one has been a huge hurdle for me to overcome. I used to be able to throw 10-20 lb dumbbells around like it was nothing. I’ve now acknowledged the fact that I am not as strong as I once was, and my body also can’t move the way it once could.
5. Bands are your besties! You can buy them pretty much anywhere and there are several different ways to utilize them.
6. If weights aren’t for you, start with any low impact exercise. These include swimming, yoga, tai-chi, bike riding, pilates, or even just a daily walk around the neighborhood.
7. Always consult with your doctor if you’re unsure about something. This can also reduce your risk of injury. A doctor can recommend specific types of exercise that can help you get on your way to your fitness goals safely and effectively.
Share your experience
All in all, if you’re starting a new fitness routine be safe, be smart, and enjoy yourself. Find what works best for you and run with it! If you’ve learned anything from your own experience, please feel free to share it in the comments below!
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?