Thanks a bunch, AS
It’s ironic, isn’t it? Ankylosing spondylitis symptoms tend to be at their worst when no-one’s at their best: first thing in the morning. Morning stiffness often follows hot on the heels of a broken night’s sleep, again thanks to AS. So here a few ‘morning hacks’: some advice to help you past stiffness and back pain in the morning – and on with your day.
Find a routine and stick to it. Not easy, but try to make a habit of getting up at a certain time (and in a certain way). Setting up a routine on easier days helps for days when getting up feels anything but easy.
Bring some heat into the bedroom – a hot water bottle, heat ointment or an electric heat pad – something to help loosen you up. Even clothes that are just out of the drier are great for stiff joints.
Get your head set, because you brain might need to loosen up as much as your back. Breathing exercises, a quick mindfulness session (like those on this app) or just writing a ‘gratitude list’ of things to be thankful for. Getting your head in a good place helps you do the same with your body.
"Getting your head in a good place helps you do the same with your body"
Exercise is excellent. It’s really good for AS symptoms (like stiffness),1 even if it’s hard work. Lots of AS charities offer advice on the best ankylosing spondylitis exercises. Have a look in the Find Support section to find one near you.
Try misdirection on your back. If pure exercise sounds like pure torture, try hiding it inside another activity. Turn housework, tidying or even making a packed lunch into a stretch out session-in-disguise.
Tell your diary everything. Chart potential triggers, what helped and what didn’t. Anything that might be useful. Even note how quickly it took you to get up: you can keep a tally and try to best your personal best.
Change the field conditions. Our beds article looked for the best AS-friendly mattress and the article on painsomnia offered hints for a better night’s sleep. Either could help your mornings too. Even moving to a different bed (or the sofa) during the night could help on the morning after.
Don’t let AS win. The temptation to lie in and not move is a powerful one. On flare days, it might be the only option you have. Getting past the stiffness is tough – it’s a mental push as much as a physical one, we know. But the sooner you get past it, the sooner you’re back in control and ready to focus on something that isn’t AS.
More from us. Read about the best beds for AS, tackling painsomnia and exercise tips
This article was written by one of the resident experts at ThisASLife.com. A social site helping the whole AS community to: Learn. Share. Inspire. Discuss.
1. Lim HJ et al. Rheumatol Int 2005; 25:225–229..