Guidelines for Sports

As a teen living with spondylitis, there may be some sports activities you want to participate in. Below are some general guidelines to follow. You should always talk with your doctor first before beginning any new sport.

Jarring and twisting sports such as tennis, squash, racquetball, and jogging can increase pain in the spine, hips and knees.

Probably the best recreational activity or sport at this time is swimming or exercising in water. The joints of the spine and lower limbs are supported by the water and can move with less effort. In the water it is usually possible to do more exercises and to have fun without pain.

Walking is usually well tolerated. Good walking shoes or running shoes will absorb some of the impact/shock during walking. Cycling is also good but you should choose a bike with upright handlebars to avoid the forward rounding of the spine that the low handlebars put you in. Be careful on hills if your knees are painful and swollen.

Guidelines for Daily Activities

Remaining active in the daily activities of life is possible. If you have a "can do" attitude you generally will do better than those who do not take an active part in their disease management.

Most of the time, activity lessens the pain of spondylitis. Light to moderate activity is always encouraged.

Disease activity fluctuates, so if pain and stiffness are worse, lighten your activities. If you are feeling OK, do more.

Once a day try to lay face down on a firm surface to stretch your spine, hips and knees. Don't try to sleep on your stomach.

How to Fight Fatigue

Spondylitis management programs recommend several ways to minimize the amount of fatigue you may feel by remembering the 4 P's:

  1. Prioritize: Do the most important things first.
  2. Pacing: Alternate between periods of activity and rest.
  3. Planning: Develop a weekly schedule that sets a pace you can live with, allows you to address your top priorities, and leaves you time for rest.
  4. Posture: Distributing your workload evenly over several sets of strong muscles can help you conserve energy.

It's also important to remember to eat a balanced, healthy diet and to get plenty of sleep each night.

What to do About Pain

Take your medicine as your doctor prescribed it for you. If the pain is not controlled with this you need to go back and see your physician.

Balance rest with activity. Rest doesn't mean sleep but rather a time to relax. Resting too much however may cause more stiffness. Light activity such as walking, or swimming, can help lessen pain.

Avoid jarring and heavy activity and those things that make the pain worse.

Talk with your health professionals and your family. Bottling pain up is not helpful.

Stretching exercises can be done as often as necessary and can help the joints, muscles and other soft tissue structure. Start gently and move the body part as far as it will go comfortably. After a few repetitions, it will be easier to move and flexibility will increase over time. Hold the motion at the point of stretch for 5 - 10 seconds, relax it and repeat it a few times more.

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