Yoga is a powerful tool for managing ankylosing spondylitis (more confirmation!)

May 30, 2023 | Diary | 1 comment

SI Pain: 0/100 | Rib Pain: 0/100 | Concrete Back: 8/100

Felt generally very good today and had zero pain.

Nice, long walk helped, and didn’t have any recurrence of lower back stiffness, even though I spent quite a lot of time at my desk.

This was a really, really good sign, and such a big improvement from how I might normally feel at the start of the week after a weekend away.

So that’s really positive!

Mini Finding

This is more confirmation of something that I have repeatedly noticed…

🎯 Yoga is so, so important

I think I’ve marked it as 25 out of 100 in terms of importance before (for things I’m doing to manage my AS).

Now that I have been doing it more regularly (at least 5 or 6 times a week) I am really massively feeling the benefit.

Sometimes during the working week, by the end of the day, after dinner, I get some of that lower back stiffness and achiness coming back.

It’s nothing extreme (nothing like before) but it is still something. But now when I do my 20 minutes of yoga, it just melts away and I feel strong again.

I’m sure there is a compounding component to the yoga in the sense that it is building up muscles, some of which I haven’t been able to use properly for 15 years or more.

That is something that is quite hard to describe with AS.

One of the pain management techniques, when dealing with chronic pain, is freezing off that area. Bracing and not moving the place that causes the most pain.

You find yourself consciously (and subconsciously) keeping parts of your back very, very still so that you don’t get pain and go into flare.

On top of this your flexibility is also lower because of the stiffness affecting the lower back.

In my case, AS would make my back feel like it was a solid block and it had kind of a fizzing component to it too.

This is a really strange sensation and quite hard to describe. You feel like your back is one granite lump at all times.

At the same time you are trying to protect this fragile pain balloon (the whole area around the sacroiliac joints), which could burst at any moment.

And as a result, you are so heavily restricted that some of these muscles, ligaments and tendons have become almost completely unused over years. This then massively exacerbates the problem, and so it becomes a vicious circle.

There was a masseuse I used to see who would gasp in horror when she massaged part of my lower back near the sacroiliac joints.

Every time, she would tell me, “You are going to be in serious trouble if you don’t exercise this part of your back”.

But at the time I couldn’t. I literally couldn’t move that part of my back at the time. So she recommended glute exercises several times a day, which was doing anyway because I found it helped with the AS.

So anyway, interesting finding there, and overall, feeling really very positive about how everything is going.

One thing I completely forgot to mention on the weekend was that at one point I accidentally had some milk chocolate. I was told it was dark chocolate and didn’t check.

I ate it and immediately realised it was milk chocolate, because it tasted so unbelievably delicious and unlike anything I had eaten in over 2 years.

It wasn’t much. Maybe one and a half really tiny cubes. If it had been a year ago, I would have felt really panicked about it and got myself into a tizz and that maybe would have sent me into flare.

However, I didn’t worry about it. I feel like my resilience is much better, my gut health at a really strong level. I did not expect that the tiny amount of dairy in that tiny morsel of chocolate would cause any significant problem. Thankfully, it hasn’t, so there was no issue!

It was a weird sensation having something on my taste buds I hadn’t experienced in such a long time. It was delicious, but at the same time, part of me didn’t feel sad that I was missing out, because actually, the taste was overwhelming. It felt incredibly thick, filling, and rich to the point where it felt a bit sickly.

It’s interesting how your taste buds change as your diet changes.

This is something I wish I could give anyone an instant experience of who is trying a diet and is finding it difficult, overwhelming, or challenging.

I know it can feel like you are being deprived at the very beginning. Your brain and your taste buds are longing for all these things that you have grown so used to for years or decades.

But just as sure as your taste buds have been accustomed to things that are damaging your gut and microbiome, your brain very quickly gets used to the new foods you put in there. Foods that aren’t damaging. And so, of course, do the microbes.

This is so important.

Changing your diet is not torture or depravation. It always confuses people when they hear about what I eat, because they think it sounds restrictive or boring. They don’t understand how I could possibly do all this stuff.

But actually, the whole thing flips around.

Real food tastes amazing.

I sometimes look at what others eat and feel a pang of upset. Not judgement, but upset that governments allow food companies to produce ultra-processed foods. Foods which contains ingredients which could be crippling people’s immune systems, slowly, over time.

Some people suffer with chronic pain, others suffer with depression or mental health issues or obesity and it’s a public health crisis. I feel lucky to have been given stark wake-up call where I didn’t have any other choice but to try something extreme with my diet.

Now changing the diet doesn’t feel extreme at all. It feels like a lucky escape. This is one of the reasons I set up this site. To shine a light on autoimmune disease and some healthier food options that will hopefully make people feel better.

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1 Comment

  1. Kanu

    What a wonderful post!
    I also just adore yoga and how your perception of the diet changed sparks a lot of hope!


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