While exercising can be a relief for ankylosing spondylitis patients, there are some exercises which should be absent from our daily routine because they can be causes of injury and can hamper further recovery. It is therefore necessary to exercise safely. By avoiding the following 9 exercises one can train the body without running the risk of spinal injuries: bent over dumbell row, squats, seated overhead dumbbell press, deadlift, crunch cum sit ups, reverse crunches, good morning, step up and lying torso twist.
Bent over dumbbell row
The exercise targets the development of the latissimus dorsi mainly. Other back muscles are also involved in the movement. The exercise is performed by bending down and lifting dumbbells till chest height. However, the exercise can prove to be injurious if the spine is not maintained in an arch position or if the movement gives a jerk to the spine. This exercise can be practiced under the close supervision of a trainer who can assist the exercise if the patient is confident that arched back can be maintained throughout the exercise. The patient is also advised not to go for heavy weight dumbbells.
Squats is an unsupported power movement which can be dangerous for the spine since the weight is divided on the posterior chain. Thus, it is very often associated to back injuries. Squats can be a cause of lumbar spine injuries which can aggravate the state of a person who is suffering from ankylosing spondylitis. However, a patient can perform supported squats as well as seated leg press which will develop the same muscles. Supported squats should be assisted by a trainer. It is advisable to receive the consent of a doctor before engaging in these exercises.
Seated overhead dumbbell press
Seated overhead dumbbell press exercise is performed by sitting on a bench and pushing the dumbbell from shoulder height till the elbows are locked. In this exercise, the weight bearing joints are engaged. Therefore, the weight is divided on the spine. Ankylosing spondylitis patients cannot afford to bear the weight on their spine as it might turn out to be injurious. The exercise can be safer if practiced with a belt. However, this exercise, in general, is not medically advised for ankylosing spondylitis patients.
Deadlift is an exercise which involves lifting a weight from the floor by bending over. It also involves lowering the weight back to the floor. In this exercise the lower back, that is, the erector spinae work isometrically to prevent the back from rounding. However, this exercise runs the risk of a spinal disc herniation if there is a spinal flexion. Moreover, it is difficult for ankylosing spondylitis patients to do the movements because of the weakness in their back muscles. Thus, it is not recommended to perform this exercise. Instead, prone alternate hand and leg raises can be performed for the benefit of the same muscles.
Crunch cum sit up
Crunch cum sit up exercise aims at strengthening the abs muscles and the hip flexors. The exercise is performed by lying down on the floor and then with hands locked behind the head or on the chest. The knees are kept bent. The upper body is then lifted from the ground and the action is repeated. It is not medically advised for patients of ankylosing spondylitis to perform this exercise due to high compressive lumbar load. The exercise can be replaced by partial crunch cum sit up exercises which are beneficial to the same muscles with lesser spine involvement.
Reverse crunches workout the lower part of the abdominal. It is done by lying on the floor and lifting the lower body. The pelvis is rolled in this exercise and it involves trunk flexion. The lower body represents 60 percent of the total body weight which makes the exercise challenging. However, it is not recommended for ankylosing spondylitis patients. 30 degrees alternative leg raises/prone superman is safer.
Good morning exercise
This exercise involves weightlifting. While exercising, it is required to keep a barbell on the trapezius and bend down. It is also required to move back in the neutral position and perform the action of bending down again. The erector spinae musles found in the lower back works isometrically to keep the spine extended. This exercise can help the lower back if properly performed under the guidance of a trainer. However, it also runs the risk of injuries if the back is rounded by mistake.
Step up exercises
Step up is a recommended exercise to improve functionality. It is not advisable for ankylosing spondyllitis patients to perform this exercise with weight as it is a compound movement. This movement involves several muscles and the hip joint. The lower back acts as a stabilizer. If the stabilizer is weak, injury can be caused in the lower back. However, this exercise can be performed in aerobic activities since it involves just the basic movement on low steps. However, it is necessary to receive the consent of a doctor before engaging in the exercise.
Lying torso twist
This exercise is performed by lying down on the floor, lifting the legs and rotating the legs towards one direction. Lying torso twist is not recommended. Researches conducted by medical professionals show that the movements involved in the torso twist do not go in accordance to the natural biomechanics of the lumbar spine. Thus, this exercise can prove to be more dangerous than beneficial to an ankylosing spondylitis patient. A patient can practice kickboxing or boxing after receiving medical consent since the activity works out the muscles around the torso every time a person punches, kicks or rotates. These activities should be carried out with extreme precautions.