I don't yet have a diagnosis of AS but have been told this week that it is "likely". I'm waiting for my first appointment with the rheumatologist. I'm 38 years old and prior to this time last year I had no back problems and was very active. I used to lift weights, cycle, do pilates, archery and ballroom dancing. The problems started as pain in the left groin area (I now understand this was from the SI joint) and have gradually progressed so that both SI joints are really inflamed and painful and I also have pain in parts of my lumbar spine. Due to the pain and the advice from the doctors to "not do it if it hurts" I have gone from being really active to extremely inactive. Now I understand what the problem is, I realise this has probably made things worse.
I really enjoy exercise and am looking for the best way back into it. I live in the UK and the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society have a "Back To Action" guide to different exercises. It covers "Mobility", "Cardiovascular", "Strength", "Flexibility" and "Breathing". I have already tried the Mobility and Breathing exercises and they actually felt really good. I'm looking for advice around Cardiovascular and Strength exercise.
For Cardiovascular I have been thinking of:
1. Cycling. I used to do this quite a lot and would definitely enjoy getting back into it.
2. Swimming. I only really know breaststroke, which I believe is not the best option for AS. So, I'd probably get some lessons on front crawl / backstroke.
3. Walking. I have tried this already but I find that it causes really bad swelling / inflammation in the SI joints even after only 5 minutes
1. What have you found to be the best types of cardiovascular exercise?
2. Are there certain types of exercise that are "best" or is it a matter of trying each out to find what works on an individual level?
3. Do any of you do exercise classes? If so, which ones and do you do them in the standard way or make some modifications?
I'd also like advice on strengthening exercises. I've been considering:
2. Weights machines in the gym
3. Exercise in the water
Which types of strengthening exercises have you found to be the best? Which would be the best starting point for someone who used to be really active but has become very inactive?
I'd appreciate any advice and suggestions you have.