Exercise To Help Relieve Your Psoriatic Arthritis

By Freedom 360

Medically reviewed by Freedom 360 Panel of Doctors

Regular exercise has often been cited as a one of the treatment options for psoriatic arthritis. As sufferers often feel pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints, moderate and regular exercises are recommended to relieve these symptoms. Exercise facilitates joint movements, thereby helping to alleviate pain, increase patient’s range of motion and encourage weight loss.

Regular exercise can also lower the risk of other comorbidities like diabetes, vascular and cardiovascular diseases. Patients should start with light stretching exercises before moving on to more intensive onesi. It is also advisable to include at least one exercise in each of these areas: flexibility; strength-training; and cardiovascular exercises in your routine to help you manage your condition .ii

The following are suggestions of exercises which are helpful in developing flexibility, muscle strength and cardiovascular performance.

Flexibility

Start your workout with flexibility exercises. You should stretch for about 15 minutes before moving on to other forms of exercises.iii This would help to loosen stiff joints and tight muscles in preparation for the workout. This also reduces the risk of sustaining injuries during the process of exercising.

Yoga

Yoga is a type of exercise that focuses on stretching your body through different sets of poses. Not only does it help to improve your flexibility, it also minimizes the risk of joint injuries. Yoga helps strengthen the back muscles and reduces pain. This will be beneficial for patients who suffer from psoriatic arthritis in their backs.

Tai Chi

Similar to yoga, tai chi is based on a routine of fluid movements. This exercise is normally done outdoors in the day or in the evening. It allows your joints to experience the full range of motion while minimizing strains. Physically, it can help improve your mobility and balance. Psychologically, it can also help you relax and de-stress.iv

Muscle-building

Strengthening your muscles helps ease the stress on the joints. The stronger the muscles, the more stable the joints are.v This lowers the risk of suffering joint-related injuries. Weights and resistance bands can be incorporated into these exercises to help build muscles. Patients with different needs can customise the routine according to their body condition. The types of muscle strengthening exercises can be classified into two groups – isometric and isotonic.

Isometric exercise

This type of exercise involves building muscle and strength without moving the joints.vi For example, bending forward to touch your toes without bending your knee is one form of isometric exercise. This assists you in stretching and strengthening your back muscles. By interlocking your fingers and pushing both your palms outwards without bending your elbow can also help your shoulder muscles. Using a resistance band also increases the intensity of your workout.

Isotonic exercise

Slightly different from isometric, isotonic exercises involves bending of joints while building strength.vii For example, lifting weights is a form of isotonic exercise. Lifting light weights with more repetition helps as it reduces the strain on the joints.

Cardiovascular exercise

Cardiovascular exercises can help improve your immune system.viii They include walking, cycling and even swimming. For optimal effectiveness, such exercises should be done at least three times a week.ix Doctors advise that patients begin with an exercise of lower intensity before gradually moving to one of moderate intensity. This gradual progression minimizes the risk of sustaining injuries while exercising.

Walking

Walking is one of the lower intensity exercises that you can do anytime and anywhere. Compared to running, walking or brisk walking might be a better and safer option for psoriatic arthritis patients due to your weaker joints. This is especially useful in lowering the risk of osteoporosis. Do remember to wear proper shoes to protect your ankles and your feet.

Cycling

Cycling is a good cardiovascular workout. Be it on a stationary bike in the gym or a bike outside, it promotes muscle building without straining your joints. To make it more interesting a family cycling trip can be organized to get your family members involved in your rehabilitation process. A day out cycling in the sun also gives you exposure to sunshine which is good for psoriasis.

Swimming

Compared to weight lifting, water exercises are gentler on your joints. Swimming provides psoriatic arthritis patients with a full body workout – strengthening the back, shoulders and hips. For those who are not strong swimmers, water aerobics or simply walking in the pool are viable options. The resistant water provides makes water aerobics more effective in improving the patients’ strength and flexibility. Walking forward, backwards or even sideways in the pool helps exercise your ankles, hips and knees.x If possible, a warm water pool would be the ideal environment for patients to exercise in.xi

Beware of over-exercising as it might do more harm than good. If the pain stays for more than two hours after exercising, your body is telling you that you have gone overboard.xii Seek medical advice from your doctor or therapist immediately and refrain from exercising to avoid aggravating your condition.

It is always good practice to seek your doctor’s opinion before embarking on your exercise regime. Finally, enjoy yourself and see yourself shed the pounds!

Tips To Manage Psoriatic Arthritis