Ankylosing Spondylitis is an auto-immune condition that causes the inflammation of the sacrum, vertebrae, spine and other main joints. The ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues become rigid (ankylosing) so much so that they fuse to the bone. Eventually, the spine fuses together at the late stages of degeneration.

The Effects and Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

• Weight gain
• Stiffness on Waking
• Spinal Pain
• Pain in the Joints
• Alteration in the posture of the spine posture, gradual stooping
• Fatigue
• Problems remaining active
• Depression
• Reduction in mobility

Natural Therapies to Help Manage the Symptoms and Effects of Ankylosing Spondylitis

• Frequent physical therapy
• Cycling, swimming, Pilates, yoga, qi gong, tai chi and low impact exercises
• Lots of f sleep
• While sitting and standing maintaining a proper posture
• Deep breathing exercises
• Regular spinal movements and stretches
• Refrain from straining the spine and from lifting heavy objects

The Benefits of Tai Chi for Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) Patients

• Reinforces the muscles surrounding the spine
• Slows down and prevents stooping
• Non-weight, slow motion, and low impact bodyweight-bearing
• Improves flexibility that reduces pain
• Maintains body mobility and helps enhance posture
• Relieves muscle tension in the lower back and shoulders
• Helps manage depression and helps reduce anxiety, emotions, and stress
• Provides a boost to your energy levels
• Gently preserves flexibility and movement
• Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, slows down heart rate, and relaxes the body
• Combines compression, expansion, and stretching of joints
• Increases oxygen and circulation to the limbs and organs
• Can be practiced by everyone, regardless of physical condition

Medical Studies

In a 2007 clinical study done in South Korea examines the effects of regular Tai Chi practice in the management of AS symptoms. People in the control group performed a couple hours of Tai Chi each week for eight weeks. Researchers of the study had this say:

“A number of past studies have shown that tai chi can help improve flexibility, balance control, headache, aerobic capacity, immunity and psychologic changes such as anxiety, mood, and depressive symptoms in people suffering from AS. It also lessens the incidence of falls in the elderly improves and enhance muscle strength. Tai chi has also been shown to reduce the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Based on these conclusions, it is safe to say that tai chi can assist patients suffering from AS.”

“These findings suggest that tai chi can improve disease activity and flexibility for patients with AS. Tai chi is an easily accessible therapy for patients and, as such, may be an effective intervention for AS.”

Amy-Sui Qun Lui is a board certified and licensed acupuncturist in Cleveland, OH and the founder of Asian Health Center.