Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) has a very direct relationship with lower back pain. As the inner rings of the spine start protruding out in the lower vertebrae, the surrounding region experiences severe pain and stiffness. It is so sharp and severe that it may wake one from a deep sleep. People suffering from ankylosing spondylitis often describe the experience as mild pain constantly rising from the lower back or hips.
Can Yoga Really Play A Key Role In Relieving Ankylosing Spondylitis Pain?
Physicians and yoga experts believe that exercise can play a key role in alleviating symptoms and pain in this condition. The patient may either go for strength training, balance, stretching, or cardiovascular exercises. Or if you can just do yoga that offers all these forms of exercises in one package. Doctors suggest that yoga is a nonimpact exercise. People suffering from acute symptoms of AS can perform milder yoga poses while those with milder symptoms can go for advanced levels of yoga. The only catch is to take it slow, you must perform the asanas under expert or doctor’s guidance.
Here are some details of how different yoga poses play a role in strengthening your backbone and increasing the flexibility of your back muscles.
- Surya Namaskar: Also known as sun salutations, it is one of the best ways to benign your day. If done correctly, you can connect your movements with your breath and feel its meditative effect on your mind and body. It is a suggested yoga for ankylosing spondylitis because it improves the flexibility and stretching ability of the spine. If you are experiencing repeated episodes of back stiffness and lower back pain, then you should practice this asana regularly either during sunrise or sunset. However, it should only be practised in a healthy state, if you are experiencing AS pain and effects, allow your body to get back to the normal state and then start performing the asana gently. Expert guidance is highly recommended for this asana.
- Balasana or Child’s Pose: The child’s pose is the easiest part of yoga for ankylosing spondylitis. It is very gentle and helps in stretching the lower back. Just drop on your knees on the mat and spread both the knees wide apart as you bring your toes together. Move your buttocks onto the heels as your arms reach forward on the ground. You can move to more modified versions of this asana as you get comfortable. It is a hip flexing asana that improves the stretching ability and flexibility of your spine.
- Cow Pose: Get down on all your fours and let your hands be placed on the mat at shoulder width. The wrists need to rest right under your shoulders while the knees need to be right below the buttocks. Now allow your belly to drop downwards as you top your backbone towards the ceiling. The asana plays a key role in increasing the flexibility and muscle strength of the spine. When practised regularly, it will decrease pain and stiffness in the lower back.
- Bridge Pose: Commonly known as the setubandh asana, this asana is a posture corrector. It strengthens the back, ankles, legs, and glutes. The asana is also used for asthma patients as it opens up the chest, heart and flexes the buttocks. The overall effect of this asana is that it calms down the nerves, and helps with the symptoms of mild depression and stress. So, it is also used as an anti-depression and stress-relieving tool for people who really need it. If you are tired and want to do something to energize your legs, it is one of the best asanas you can do. Along with all this, the setu bandhasana is quite useful in improving digestion.
- Supine Twisting: The asana offers gentle twisting which can be very good in getting relief from inflammation due to ankylosing spondylitis. However, if you feel any pain while doing the twist, you should stop it immediately. It is a destressing asana that improves mindfulness, massages the back and buttocks, improves blood circulation, and improves digestive power. It is especially recommended for people suffering from lower back pain and stiffness.
- Downward Facing Dog Pose: Also known as the adho mukha svanasana, the pose helps in strengthening the complete body including legs, abdomen, shoulders, arms, and upper body. It also improves the stretchability of the back, calves, spine, hamstrings, and ankles. Regular practising of this asana can be very useful in stimulating blood circulation and destressing the mind. The asana is mainly used to relax the spine in between strong forward and backbends.
These asanas are just a small glimpse of what yoga can do for your back and stressful routines. The only catch is that before performing them regularly one must learn the right technique and ability to connect movement with your breathing pattern. To learn the right technique you must take yoga classes where trained experts will teach the details and techniques of doing these asanas. Classes are mandatory for those who are suffering from one or more health problems. They must perform the asanas under experts and not as a DIY drill. Flawed or wrong techniques of asanas can have adverse effects on your health and may increase the pain instead of relieving it. Lastly, people who have suffered back pains, spondylitis, and other such problems for a long time often have weak muscles that can easily swell or twist with mild exercises. Iyengar yoga is highly recommended for such cases. In this yoga, all asanas are performed with the help of supports that simplify movement for sick and weak people and help them attain the required effects and benefits of yoga without much effort.