Imagine Dragons has been touring for the better part of a decade — and all the while their frontman Dan Reynolds has been battling a painful autoimmune disease: ankylosing spondylitis, or AS. But with his incredibly toned physique and sculpted six-pack, you’d hardly know he was struggling with his health.
“I was diagnosed with it many years ago, but the process of it was incredibly difficult because it’s a hidden disease so not a lot of people know it. It’s not mainstream,” the singer tells Us Weekly exclusively.
Before the 31-year-old singer was diagnosed with the acute arthritic condition, which typically brings chronic pain, “I was bouncing around from doctor to doctor for over a year, in a lot of pain,” he says. While diagnoses like sciatica or slipped discs were thrown around, it was a rheumatologist who finally determined that he had AS.
Once he knew, he was able to develop a treatment plan that worked for him to manage inflammation — which includes a lot of time at the gym and resulted in his ripped form. “There’s really three things — at least, that I found that work for me — and that’s balancing out your diet, exercise and a treatment plan,” says Reynolds. “There’s foods that are trigger foods for people that you remove, things you add that you needed, nutrients, vitamins, exercise; some people use yoga. For me I find a lot of my pain is in my hinge movement, so I do a lot of hinge movement and then also a treatment plan… it’s individualized for everybody.”
One thing is non-negotiable for him though: “I work out five days a week,” he says. “Just for an hour.” Reynolds’ routine consists of a lot of flexibility and strength training. “Things to get blood flowing to different parts of my body,” he says. “I do a lot of yoga, I think yoga is just, for anybody that has back pain, things like that, just stretching out, getting blood flowing to places that don’t typically get the blood when you’re sitting in a chair all day.”
Now that the father of three — who’s expecting a fourth baby with his wife, Aja Volkam, following their seven-month separation — is healthy, he has a new goal: “To get people to not have that years process of pain,” he says. That’s where his organization Monster Pain in the AS comes in. “It’s confusing,” he says of the time before diagnosis. “The cash adds up. So we want to bring this to the mainstream. Millions of people are suffering from it and not anybody knows AS, so we’re trying to get it out there, get the word out there.”