Using Hydrotherapy to Help Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)
What is Ankylosing Spondylitis
AS is a form of spinal arthritis, mainly affecting young males, that can eventually cause ankylosis of vertebral and sacroiliac joints. Swimming is a great form of exercise that can relieve any pain from AS.
How swimming can help people with AS
Swimming is a low impact sport that can not only keep your general fitness levels up but also maintains flexibility and strength in a safe environment. Using the correct strokes is also important. Front crawl is ideal if you suffer with AS, as it keeps your body level and doesn’t put any strain on you neck or back, unlike breaststroke.
How hydrotherapy acts as a resistance
Water is a great shock absorber, making activities such as aerobics a lot safer than on dry land. Hard surfaces can have a negative impact on the knees, feet, hips and spine, so the water acts as a buoyancy aid to reduce any unnecessary impact.
If you’re suffering with any physical pain, stiffness, stooped posture or fatigue, hydrotherapy can address these issues. You’ll find it much easier to stay upright as the effect of gravity is less and essential you’ll float.
Number of sessions per week
Getting into the routine of swimming regularly can really help. Try going a couple of times a week for half an hour sessions, then build up to three sessions a week. Once you’re comfortable with your routine then perhaps start to increase the distance you’re swimming or the speed you swim at. Make sure this change in routine doesn’t inflame your joints.
Your swimming session
To get the most out of your hydrotherapy session that equals the same as a cardio workout or weights session carry out the following actions:
- Start off by reducing your pace in a warm up exercise.
- Add some in-water stretches for a few minutes.
- Build your heart rate up for 20 minutes by swimming as strong and hard as you can.
- To ease any pressure, try a few lengths of back crawl to balance shoulder rotation.
- To end your session, finish with a 5 minute warm down.