Geoff Lindsay

Quick tips to improve your posture with Ankylosing Spondylitis

Kyphosis: the whys and wherefores of working to avoid that AS excessive curve in the top of your spine. 

AS can give us a stoop, roundshoulderedness, a question mark posture in our whole body, known as a kyphosis.

It can be a symptom of AS. Members of Yoga for AS say they especially don't want that.

There should be a healthy S shape to your spine, rather than a C shape that AS tries to get us into. You can stretch and strengthen the muscles, ligaments and tendons of your back to maintain and maybe improve that S shape posture. 

Watch this short YouTube video below to get the basics.  
In times gone by some now unacceptable phrases like hunchback or dowager’s hump or humpback were used, making people with AS feel stigmatised.  

Blameful words like slouching, poor posture, have been used, but people with AS and osteoporosis are more likely to develop kyphosis as part of our autoimmune disease.  

Kyphosis looks and feels like:

  • Being round- shouldered/ hump in your upper back.
  • Pain radiating from the hump through the rest of your spine and shoulder blades. 
  • Fatigue, which is more than tiredness. 
  • Hamstrings tightness.
  • Excessive arching in the back of the neck, the nape, especially in work sitting and screens work, the so called jut-jaw.
  • Difficulty walking, standing and getting out of chairs. 
  • Pain and stiffness when you gaze upwards.
  • Movements you need to make in your spine when driving your car are less easy. 
  • Pain when you lie on your back.
  • In our experience in Yoga for AS, people with AS kyphosis may have body image issues from having a rounded back, and are keen to use yoga as a solution. 

Learning how safely to exercise/do yoga for kyphosis in AS is a real motivator for people with AS/axSpA/Ankylosing Spondylitis/Axial Spondyloarthritis.

None of us want a spinal deformity.

The good news.

Our friends in rheumatology say that in the last 15 years or so, there are less severe cases of kyphosis due to improvements in AS treatments. 

They also say that they see better results on BASMI (the measurements of how you are doing with your AS).

Exercises and yoga for kyphosis/hunchback/round shoulders include: 

Yoga modified for AS, especially working on the pelvic tilt. So, in yoga for AS, we have classes especially on unfolding out of this forward fold, and it begins with working on the pelvic tilt. 

What, you ask? Pelvic tilt? Never heard of it. 

Learning the correct postural position for your pelvis can help you to unfold out of this folded up posture. AS pain, stiffness and fatigue makes us want to fold forwards at the pelvis, the forward flexion, a bit like the foetal position but standing up. It's like standing in a question mark posture. 

The posterior pelvic tilt is when the tailbone tucks down and the front of the pubic bone lifts up, drawing the navel towards the inner spine. The anterior pelvic tilt is when the pubic bone tips downwards and the buttocks lift up. Working on flexibility in the pelvis helps us to stand in a better posture, maybe helping us to avoid/lessen kyphosis. 
By working on the pelvic tilt we are learning the correct postural position for your pelvis. It’s crucial to unfolding out of the question mark posture. 
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