Last updated:22nd July 2016


Swimming can be great for AS

It improves your general fitness, flexibility and strength in a safe, low impact environment.

 Remember it's important to swim the right strokes, in the right way.

Swimming strokes

Front crawl is considered the best stroke for people with AS to use.

Your body position remains extended throughout, including your neck, and the stroke ensures that your spine rotates gently throughout this continuous action.

It is also worth being able to swim some back crawl, which helps with opening the chest and ensures that your shoulders rotate anti-clockwise.

Strokes to be avoided include:

  • Butterfly - causes excessive arching of the lower back
  • Breast stroke - puts excessive strain on the neck and lower back AND the leg kick can inflame the hips and pelvis.

Number of sessions per week

After a few weeks of going swimming a couple of times a week for 30 minute sessions, try to add an extra weekly session.

Once you know you can do 3 x 30 minute sessions a week then start to increase your distances and speed. Only do this once you know that you can swim strongly without inflamming your joints.

Your swimming session

For a swimming session that's  the equivalent of a cardio work out or weights session in its own right:

  • Start your session by swimming at a reduced pace for 5 minutes to warm up
  • Do some stretching in the water for a couple of minutes
  • Swim hard for 20 minutes
  • Add in a few lengths of back crawl which helps balance shoulder rotation and also helps open up your chest.
  • Finish with a 5 minute warm down


Once you feel strong enough and are starting to gain benefit from your sessions there are lots of different opportunities to take your swimming further.

If you like the idea of swimming in open water take a look at our swimming events pages for ideas on how you can support NASS.

If you're more of a pool person then have a look at SwimBritain.