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#256735 - 08/18/13 09:06 PM Lifting?
BeccaLynn8819 Offline
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Registered: 08/18/13
Posts: 2
I was told I likely have AS less than a week ago. I've been struggling with hip pain for over a year without much relief so I'm glad to have an answer but pretty down about it.

I'm a very active 24 year old and love to lift and bike. Does anyone else still do lower body lifting and if so what do you do? I was told to avoid squats, lunges, leg press etc because they are too high impact. I don't want to stop lifting but don't want to cause more damage either.

#256743 - 08/19/13 08:09 AM Re: Lifting? [Re: BeccaLynn8819]
JenInCincy Offline
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Registered: 05/19/08
Posts: 13279
Loc: Cincinnati, OH
Who told you that? Those exercises have hardly any impact at all! "High impact" is stuff like running. I'm not an expert or a doctor but common sense discussion in these forums has indicated a pretty consistent opinion on this subject: staying fit and strong is good thing, both physically and emotionally!

Another important benefit: as a woman you know you need to take care of your bones. You are young so you still have a decade or so ahead of you to continue adding bone mass. Lower body strength training is a great way to increase the density of your big bones to help them see you through all the rest of your life. One effect of spondylitis can be a loss of bone density - I'm not sure they understand why - but there are folks here (male and female) who have had to deal with osteopenia much younger than if they had not had SpA. So lifting is good in general and for bone health, which is critical in spondies.

Unless you have specific damage/problems that make it a bad/risky idea to do this lower-body strength training I can't see why it is a problem assuming you have been using good form and are lifting safely. Doctors often cannot relate to people who are very active/athletic and unfortunately, it is easy for them to say to limit activity esp. when confronted with something that seems "strange" such as a 24 year old woman who does this sort of strength training.

Many who post in these forums exercise regularly, everything from weight training to running & cycling. One guy was in the Olympic trials for the marathon a couple of years back! Just use common sense in protecting your body to avoid injury - as you always have, I hope smile Keeping your muscles strong will help provide support for problematic areas that are inflamed (joints and entheses.) I used to lift too (in my 30s) - at my peak I could squat more than my weight of 145. I gradually dropped my lifting and running (I had done many races including several half marathons) not due to health issues, just due to lifestyle priorities and feeling tired of it. I am starting to get my mojo back and just bought a new pair of running shoes yesterday - just the knowledge that I've got a plan to run our annual Thanksgiving Day 10k race has me all excited smile

On the "hip" pain - make sure it is thoroughly evaluated. It could be due to SpA but could also be a training injury. Problems in the hip area can feel to us like it is the hip joint but often it is not. If you can, get to see a good PT - one who focuses on rehabbing athletes after injury/surgery, ideally - to make sure you understand the specific issues going on in your body and what things may help or cause further damage/irritation. A way to find someone like that is through a sports medicine doc/practice (group practices may include ortho surgeons and physical med/rehab specialists, aka physiatrists - the latter is the doc you would want to consult for a thorough evaluation of the mechanical issues that may be going on as part of your SpA, or in addition to it.

Welcome to the forums - glad you are found us but please know this is not a death sentence. Keep on truckin'!
Jen, 42, happy partner of James and Moma to Evan, 14, & Lucy, 12.5 (Crohn's dx @ age 3; on Remicade since April 2010.) I take piroxicam, Flexeril, & Nucynta ER nightly. 3 anti-TNFs didn't pan out for me.

"Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance." -- Hippocrates

#256797 - 08/20/13 04:42 AM Re: Lifting? [Re: BeccaLynn8819]
seekonk Offline
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Registered: 12/06/10
Posts: 1254
You got bad advice from the doctor. Lifting, including the lifts you mention, was the only thing that helped me before I got diagnosed and treated, and it still is a mainstay of my treatment. Many doctors actually recommend as much exercise activity as possible. Squats and lunges are great exercises for someone with AS - they strengthen and stabilize the lower back and teach correct movement patterns that protect the spine. Just use perfect form so that you don't get mechanical injuries.

Be careful with leg presses since they can cause lower back injury by forcing the lower back into lordosis while under stress (not a natural or beneficial position), so you are at high risk of disc injuries with leg presses.

Edited by seekonk (08/20/13 04:42 AM)
Spondylitis since '08, finally diagnosed Feb '11.
Enbrel 50mg/week.

#257763 - 09/07/13 01:17 PM Re: Lifting? [Re: seekonk]
jp93 Offline
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Registered: 07/31/13
Posts: 122
Seekonk. This is good to know. No more leg press machine for me. I'll go back to the good ole fashion squats with light weight. I've just about bored myself senseless swimming every day. Weight lifting starts Monday!! I'll look like a whimp but oh well.

#258085 - 09/14/13 08:06 AM Re: Lifting? [Re: BeccaLynn8819]
ASrunner6 Offline
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Registered: 07/02/12
Posts: 22
I completely agree with the others. Exercise is very important for us with AS. I lift 4 times a week at least. I do HITT training, elliptical, spinning and go for runs too. I do a lot of core work as well to strengthen and protect my back. I am in better shape now, then when I was diagnosed 8 years ago.

I was told not to run at all after I had ankle surgery. I have also been warned that I am more prone to injury because of this disease. That may be true. At 34, I have had my fair share of degenerative 'older age' type injuries. However, working out regularly keeps me feeling good. It works out my stiffness and pain. It helps me to release stress and keeps me sane. With a stressful job and 4 kids, it is my only 'me' time.

Definitely listen to your body and rest when you need it. If your knees or hip hurts one day, maybe do only upper body training that day.


I didn't know that about leg press either. Guess I should skip it from now on. Thanks for the tip!

#259020 - 10/04/13 02:40 PM Re: Lifting? [Re: BeccaLynn8819]
Eli Offline
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Registered: 10/04/13
Posts: 2
I've had different doctors tell me different things regarding exercise. I've been told by different doctors that both weight lifting and yoga might be bad for me.

After doing lots of my own experimentation, I feel like weight lifting is one of the things that I can count on to make me feel better. I'm unable to do barbell squats because it puts too much pressure on my upper spine, but I can do pretty much everything else. Deadlifts help quite a bit with my lower back/hip pain, and shrugs are great for my upper spine pain.

The other thing that really helps me is cycling. Before getting into it, I was told that it's bad for the lower back, but I really ride a lot, and it almost exclusively makes me feel good. In general, I find that intense cardio exercise is kind of a lifesaver for me.

But yeah, for me, lifting is good medicine.


#259372 - 10/13/13 01:35 AM Re: Lifting? [Re: BeccaLynn8819]
Guiseppe Offline
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Registered: 10/11/13
Posts: 7
Loc: Pacific NW
Sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I was also a very active weight lifter prior to my diagnosis. My doctor told me not to used free weights they promote a range of motion that goes beyond what someone with AS should do. I was told exactly the same same regarding lower body. If you think about it, squats are a bad idea because your are compressing your vertebrae. The leg extensions are also bad. I was told to go from power lifting using heavy weights (mostly free weights) and short reps, to machines, high reps, light weight and tons of stretching and Yoga. It was a tough change, but it can be done.
"Shut up! Shut up and take the pain...TAKE THE PAIN!" -Sgt. Barnes Platoon

Diagnosed in 1997 at age of 31.HLA-B27 positive. Tendonitis in knees and shoulders and fatigue as a teenager. IBS, Iritis in mid twenties and severe neck and back pain in late twenties. Current meds are Humira, Fentanyl Patch, Tizanidine and Wellbutrin. Use a self hypnosis/meditation technique to control severe pain and migraines that start in T2. No fusion yet.

#263441 - 01/16/14 07:47 AM Re: Lifting? [Re: BeccaLynn8819]
strengthcoach27 Offline
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Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 23
Loc: Philadelphia
I was recently diagnosed as well. Lifting has been my life for some time. For the last couple of years every time I touch a weight I get so much inflammation in my hips and hamstrings I feel like someone beat me with a bat. I am a strength and conditioning specialist and I can tell you one thing for sure. If it hurts don't do it! Do what makes your body feel good leave the rest. Find a sports med Doc or a CSCS with a certification in special populations if you want further advice on what to do and what not to do.

#270931 - 04/04/15 10:24 PM Re: Lifting? [Re: JenInCincy]
adante Offline
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Registered: 03/30/15
Posts: 2
Originally Posted By: JenInCincy
One guy was in the Olympic trials for the marathon a couple of years back!

That is amazing and pretty inspiring. Do you have a link to that thread / more information?

#270941 - 04/06/15 09:38 AM Re: Lifting? [Re: BeccaLynn8819]
SouthernMoss Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 03/12/13
Posts: 1741
Loc: MS
Ginny - 56 year old female
Dx with USpA in March 2013; changed to AS in July 2015
Iritis and Scleritis
unicompartmental knee replacement June 2014
MTX, Humira, Cyclobenzaprine, plus Indomethacin ER as needed
Supplements: Folic Acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Calcium, Fish Oil, Melatonin, Culturelle probiotic

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