Tiara’s Tuesday Talk – by Sara Sheibley
So here we are at Tuesday again and time for my weekly talk. After much deliberation, and a helping brain from my daughter Ashleigh, we are going to discuss exercises you can do to help stretch out that back which may get achy from walking.
For people with Ankylosing Spondylitis a back ache can occur at any time without any known reason. This is called a flare. Flares are the sudden and severe onset of symptoms and for us this usually means a severe back ache, muscle spasms and issues with our SI joints. The sacroiliac joint or SI joint is the joint in the bony pelvis between the sacrum and the ilium of the pelvis, which are joined by strong ligaments.
When someone has AS, it is recommended to stay active, stretch and exercise. So here are a few tips. Exercise at a time of day that is convenient. If you are typically stiff in the morning, that may be the time to start loosening up, but you can only get your best stretches after the stiffness has lessened. Midday or evening may be the only times you are comfortable exercising. If necessary, split up your exercises during the day. Do your exercises daily and begin with warm up exercises. Above all, learn to listen to your body. Learn to emphasize the areas that need the most exercise, whether it be stretching or strengthening.
Some people with AS are absolutely not able to exercise but if you can (and even for healthy individuals) stretching is an excellent way to get your body ready for your walking. If you plan to do a distance walk then doing some of the following stretches will hopefully help your back during and after the walk.
As usual I cannot stress enough how important it is to first consult with your doctor before starting. Do only those exercises that do not cause pain. If you are in pain, then do not even begin an exercise program. Also if pain occurs during stretches, exercising or walking, then stop. If you feel you can resume, then take a break before continuing.
These are some good back stretches my physical therapist recommended for me.
The McKenzie Press-Up Exercise:
• The McKenzie Press-Up Exercise helps to relieve stress and lower back pain.
• Begin by laying flat on the ground (face down). When doing this exercise it is important to keep the hips and legs relaxed and in contact with the floor.
• Keep your hands in line with your shoulders.
• Inhale, then exhale and press up using the hands keeping the lower half of your body relaxed. Hold until you need to inhale, then move down, lay flat on the ground to rest, and repeat ten times.
Knee to Chest Exercise:
1. Lie on your back on a table or firm surface.
2. Clasp your hands behind the thigh and pull your knee towards your chest.
3. Keep the opposite leg flat on the surface of the table Maintain the position for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
Pelvic Lift Exercise:
1. Lie on your back on a flat surface, with your feet flat on the surface and your knees bent.
2. Keep your legs together
3. Cross your arms over your chest.
4. Tilt your pelvis and push your low back to the floor.
5. Then slowly lift your buttocks off the floor as far as possible without straining.
6. Maintain this position for 5 seconds. Lower your buttocks to the floor Do not hold breath.
Backward Bending Exercise:
1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart.
2. Keep your knees as straight as possible.
3. Place your hands on your back at your waist.
4. Bend backwards at your waist keeping the knees as straight as possible.
5. Hold for 5 seconds (or less, depending on comfort).Return slowly to the upright position.
Side Bending Exercise:
1. Stand up straight with your arms at your sides and your feet shoulder width apart.
2. Bend your trunk to one side, by lowering your shoulder.
3. Run your hand down the outside of your thigh.
4. Hold for 5 seconds (or less, depending on comfort).
5. Slowly straighten up. Repeat to the opposite side.
Start off slow and work your way through. Don’t push yourself. If it hurts, stop. This is the best advice I can give. I know we are all walking for an awesome cause however, don’t feel bad if you can’t get steps. Yes, some people are running and cycling and jogging – but me? I’m just stepping and using a recumbent bike in my son’s bedroom. I can only do what I can do. Don’t let having feelings of self reproach steal the joy of knowing you are supporting a great cause.
Next week I think I’m going to do something a little different. Tune in on Tuesday and I’ll meet you here!
Sara Sheibley is a wife and mother of four. Through out most of her life she has dealt with chronic illness. Born with small fiber axonal polyneuropathy, she had aches and pains early on but wasn’t diagnosed with AS until 2008. Since then she has had to champion her own cause after she developed hemalytic anemia from treatments. Although she suffers with more than just AS, she feels that this is her primary illness and wants to be active in helping the cause. Sara & her Tiara’s Tuesday Talk will discuss a myriad of topics from assistive devices to walking help when you have other illnesses to consider.