Maintaining good posture is important for everyone. Good posture helps prevent fatigue and strain and improves balance. For people with spondylitis, good posture is essential to avoid developing kyphosis (curved upper back). In those with ankylosing spondylitis, whose spines undergo fusing, maintaining a good posture helps prevent the joints from fusing permanently into an abnormal posture that makes walking, getting dressed, and other aspects of daily life more difficult. Maintaining good posture may also help prevent some respiratory complications of spondylitis.
What does it involve?
Consider doing posture training with a physical therapist familiar with spondylitis. A physical therapist can teach exercises and habits that help correct misalignments in the spine and hips before they become permanent.
The pain of spondylitis causes many people to adopt a bending posture that feels protective. However, abnormal posture only increases stress on the spine, leading to more pain in a vicious cycle. Correct posture involves keeping hips and shoulders even, chin parallel with the floor, knees straight (not bent), and a neutral spine position with no flexing or arching. Abdominal muscles should be engaged, and weight should be evenly distributed on both feet.
You can test whether your posture is becoming abnormal by standing with your back against a wall. In this position, the back of your head should touch the wall while your chin remains parallel with the floor.
Maintain good posture throughout the day, whether you are standing, sitting, or lying. Hard, straight-backed chairs are more conducive to good posture than soft sofas. If you sit at a computer, check to make sure your station is set up to be as ergonomic as possible. Take frequent breaks to get up, move around, and stretch, if you sit for long periods of time. To maintain optimal posture while sleeping, choose a firm mattress and sleep on your back with a thin pillow beneath your neck.
Maintaining good posture habits can help prevent strain and fatigue, improve balance, and discourage the development of permanent abnormal posture. In those who develop ankylosing spondylitis, good posture can help preserve quality of life and avoid respiratory complications.
There is general agreement among spine specialists that maintaining good posture is vital to preventing many complications of spondylitis.
Many people with spondylitis live with pain and stiffness that makes it difficult to stand up straight and observe good posture habits.
Changing the posture habits of a lifetime is challenging, and does not happen overnight.
It can be hard to give up soft sofas and beds in exchange for hard chairs and firm mattresses. It may expensive if you need to buy new furniture.
It may be difficult to give up side or stomach sleeping positions and big, fluffy pillows.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Ankylosing Spondylitis and Posture – SpineUniverse
Exercise & Posture – Spondylitis Association of America
Posture in Advanced Ankylosing Spondylitis – WebMD
Why good posture matters – Harvard Health Publications
Importance of posture assessment in ankylosing spondylitis. Preliminary study. – PubMed