You woke up in pain today, right? And even if the pain diminished as the sun crawled across the sky, that doesn’t mean that it’s going away. Not completely. So why bother?
This is the way I feel on most days. When my alarm goes off, I wince as I roll over to turn it off and start whimpering as I readjust my body. It’s not fair. I struggle to find a position that isn’t agonizing, when anyone else would just be hitting snooze. If that wasn’t bad enough, I know that there’s a desperate struggle in my immediate future just to put on my pants.
If you feel the same way, there are really only two responses: let the pain control you, or fight back. By making the following additions to my morning routine I’ve empowered myself to fight back, and so can you.
My Ankylosing Spondylitis Morning Routine
Wake Up Consistently
No matter how little sleep I got, I force myself to my feet within the same 15 minute window every morning. Some nights the pain keeps me up for hours, but I’ve found having a consistent wake time means it happens less. It’s also been linked to lower body fat, an important component of managing AS and chronic pain.
I like to get out of bed between 7am and 7:15am, but everyone is different. Decide what time you want to be up make it a point to do it.
You should keep a pain journal. This is something that I’m going to post on much more extensively later, but it’s an important part of my routine.
The act of documenting how you’re feeling can help you identify pain patterns. Activities, foods and environmental factors that cause pain become more obvious when written down. A pain journal can also show you what ISN’T causing you pain.
I keep a notebook with me at all times for this specific reason. I write down everything I eat, exercises I’ve done and the what/how/where of any pain in my body. I do this about three times a day, starting first thing in the morning.
Stretch it Out
Ankylosing spondylitis, by design, results in a loss of range of motion and flexibility. The majority of sufferers find that they have more pain first thing in the morning than any other time of day. Which makes the morning the perfect time to set the tone for the rest of your day.
Even just a few minutes of stretching on a daily basis can improve chronic pain symptoms. Studies show stretching should be the first line of defense against diseases like ankylosing spondylitis.
I use a smartphone app by the name of Sworkit (here’s an outdated online version, if you don’t have a smartphone). I like it because you can adjust how much time your routine can be and mixes up the positions. There are also a lot of arthritis-oriented routines available online for free.
Get Some Sun
Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem among ankylosing spondylitis and chronic pain sufferers. But Vitamin D happens to be one of the most abundant resources we have available to us. You see, humans have been generating Vitamin D by using direct sunlight for millions of years. So why not step outside and get your fill?
It shows not only potential for pain management, but it also has a tendency to help with depression. And, as I’m sure you’re well aware, depression is always just one step away from chronic pain.
Meditation isn’t something I ever expected to find it’s way into my morning routines. With so much mumbo jumbo around the practice, I had always written it off. After trying it for a while now, I’m happy to say that I was wrong about it.
My personal favorite means of meditation is using an app called Headspace. It offers a 10 day free trial that will teach you the basics. After that, if you don’t want to pay for more, there are plenty of sites and apps that offer similar services.
I know it shouldn’t be this way, but when you suffer every morning, you start to believe there’s no other way. When you have chronic pain, it’s easy to feel a sense of permanent defeat. Particularly when you start your day with it. You begin to resent ‘normal’ people and it adds another layer of separation from the world around you.
Adding these components to my morning routine has empowered me against my chronic pain. My ankylosing spondylitis has gone from a curse to a motivator first thing in the morning.
If my struggle sounds familiar to you, give a few of these a shot tomorrow and let me know how you feel afterward.