Simple Exercises for People with Psoriatic Arthritis
First of all, it’s important to remember that people with psoriatic arthritis have to deal with an autoimmune disorder that’s usually bilateral. That is, it affects both the left and right sides of the body.
It usually manifests with pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints. And although there’s no cure, it’s possible to control its symptoms with certain treatments. Among these, exercise is considered to be one of the most beneficial. Let’s take a look at why.
The benefits of exercise for patients with psoriatic arthritis
Exercising regularly helps patients with psoriatic arthritis maintain joint flexibility and range of motion. Keep in mind that psoriatic arthritis itself causes inflammation, which leads to pain and stiffness.
Because of this, people with psoriatic arthritis often experience limitations in movement. However, the practice of physical exercise helps to counteract it.
Through stretching and low-impact activities, it’s possible to improve physical fitness, regulate body weight, increase joint flexibility, and prevent cardiovascular complications.
Swimming and pedaling an exercise bike are options that can help control the symptoms of this autoimmune disease.
The general tips for exercising for patients with psoriatic arthritis
Patients with psoriatic arthritis can prevent complications of the disease through regular exercise. Even so, there are some tips to keep in mind beforehand to adapt the training to the condition.
Low-impact exercises are the most recommended for patients with psoriatic arthritis. They include activities that do not place excessive stress on the joints and involve less risk of injury. Walking, cycling, swimming, and yoga are some great examples.
The Mayo Clinic points out that this form of exercise strengthens the muscles and tissue surrounding the joints. In this way, it helps prevent them from becoming stiffer. It also contributes to the prevention and treatment of overweight, a factor that is linked to the aggravation of the symptoms of this disease.
Do a warm-up exercise
In general, it’s advisable to do warm-up exercises before starting any exercise routine. Mobilizing the ankles, knees, hips, wrists, shoulders, and neck will prepare the body for activity.
As a review shared in Sports Medicine states, warming up is key to achieving optimal performance during the routine. In itself, it has effects on temperature, metabolism, nerves, and psychological level.
If necessary, it’s possible to use walking poles. This allows for greater stability and reduces pressure on the joints. There are many types of canes. It’s important to choose the ones that best suit your needs.
Seek professional advice
A conversation with your physiotherapist and doctor is key to choosing the activities that best suit your condition. Remember that exercise during a flare-up is not the same as exercise outside a flare-up.
Make sure to stay hydrated
Hydration is critical for psoriatic arthritis patients in all circumstances, and even more so during physical activity. Being well-hydrated is key to regulating inflammatory processes and keeping the joints lubricated. The best drink is always water.
Hand and wrist exercises
Specific hand, finger, and wrist exercises for people with psoriatic arthritis include the following:
- Opening and closing the hand. Resistance can be added by closing the hand over a small, soft ball – or a rolled-up sock to further strengthen the muscles.
- Bring your thumb to each of the fingers independently until they touch.
- Try ‘walking‘ with your toes on a smooth surface. You can combine adjacent fingers in pairs or walk with all of them, if you have enough control and coordination. This can be done forwards and backward, and also side to side.
- Place your forearm on the table and let the wrist hang, flexing up and down (with control, without dropping) and moving from side to side at different angles with respect to the arm. The exercise can be performed with a little weight (with a light dumbbell or a small bottle of water).
- Place the forearm and hand on a table and, with the opposite hand, gently pull the fingers back so that they point upwards, holding the position for 30 seconds.
Like this article? We think you may also like to read: Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect the Lungs?
Foot and leg exercises for patients with psoriatic arthritis
Some specific foot and leg exercises for people with psoriatic arthritis are as follows:
- Sit on the floor on a towel or mat and squeeze the far edge with your toes for two to three minutes.
- Leave marbles or similar balls on the floor and pick them up with your toes.
- Sit or lie down and draw letters or numbers in the air with each foot.
- While standing, with something close by to hold on to, raise your heels and then your toes several times, shifting your weight back and forth.
- Perform daily calf stretches, bringing one bent leg forward and leaving the back leg straight, while pushing against a wall to intensify the leg stretch. The posture should be maintained for at least 30 seconds with each leg.
Recommended physical activities for patients with psoriatic arthritis
Some physical activities are especially recommended for people with psoriatic arthritis. The most prominent are the following.
A review reported in Rheumatology and Therapy highlights that exercise walking, in combination with ongoing health education, decreases the likelihood of flare-ups in patients with psoriatic arthritis.
You can do this activity in small sessions of just 10 minutes, several times a day, if walking for longer periods of time isn’t possible. To reduce pressure on the joints, doctors recommend walking on flat surfaces.
It’s also important to pay attention to your footwear, as it can have a positive or negative impact, depending on its design. Choose shoes designed for this activity.
We think you may also like to read this article: How Can You Improve the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
Swimming is an ideal exercise for patients with psoriatic arthritis, as it strengthens muscles and increases flexibility without putting pressure on the joints. Through Arthritis Australia: Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) support program the following effects are highlighted:
- Increased comfort and freedom of movement in the feet, knees, back, and hips.
- Decreased joint pain.
- Warming up of muscles and joints.
- Increased endurance and fitness.
It’s recommended to perform controlled exercises and, if possible, attend a group class or seek professional help for a personalized exercise recommendation.
Weight training can help patients with psoriatic arthritis
A study shared via Clinical Rheumatology highlights that the practice of resistance training helps improve functional capacity, disease activity, and quality of life in patients with psoriatic arthritis.
In this vein, weight training programs are a good option for those with the disease. Most are safe, although professional advice and working gradually are important, along with rest days between sessions to recover.
Some benefits of this activity are the following:
- A decrease in joint tension.
- A correction of body posture.
- Increased mobility and balance.
- Increased bone density.
- An increased physical endurance.
- Finally, weight loss.
Yoga helps improve strength and flexibility and is a very useful tool for reducing joint pain. As such, it’s an exercise modality that can help people with psoriatic arthritis cope with symptoms.
In addition, you can modify most postures to suit your individual needs. It’s also possible to use props, such as blocks and straps, to assist during practice. Thus, even in cases where there are more mobility problems, a person with psoriatic arthritis can adapt a chair to make it possible to practice.
It’s important to get professional advice and take action
Conditions such as psoriatic arthritis require diagnosis and specific medical follow-up. It’s important to inform your doctor of any change in the routine that involves the incorporation of physical activities, as well as to have specialists when starting to do new exercises, however simple they may seem.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Kessler J, Chouk M, Ruban T, Prati C, Wendling D, Verhoeven F. Psoriatic arthritis and physical activity: a systematic review. Clin Rheumatol. 2021 Nov;40(11):4379-4389. doi: 10.1007/s10067-021-05739-y. Epub 2021 Apr 29. PMID: 33913069.
- Psoriatic arthritis – Symptoms and causes [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriatic-arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354076.
McGowan CJ, Pyne DB, Thompson KG, Rattray B. Warm-Up Strategies for Sport and Exercise: Mechanisms and Applications. Sports Med. 2015 Nov;45(11):1523-46. doi: 10.1007/s40279-015-0376-x. PMID: 26400696.
- Psoriatic arthritis [Internet]. nhs.uk. www.nhs.uk/conditions/psoriatic-arthritis/.
- Perrotta FM, Scriffignano S, Benfaremo D, Ronga M, Luchetti MM, Lubrano E. New Insights in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation in Psoriatic Arthritis: A Review. Rheumatol Ther. 2021 Jun;8(2):639-649. doi: 10.1007/s40744-021-00298-9. Epub 2021 Mar 12. PMID: 33710586; PMCID: PMC8217348.
- Water exercise. (n.d.). Arthritis Australia: Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) support program. Available in https://www.mypsoriaticarthritis.org.au/article/things-you-can-do-exercise/water-exercise
- Roger-Silva D, Natour J, Moreira E, Jennings F. A resistance exercise program improves functional capacity of patients with psoriatic arthritis: a randomized controlled trial. Clin Rheumatol. 2018 Feb;37(2):389-395. doi: 10.1007/s10067-017-3917-x. Epub 2017 Nov 28. PMID: 29185133.
- Nguyen TT, Jensen CG, Khoury L, Deleuran B, Blom ES, Breinholt T, Christensen R, Skov L. Effectiveness of Mind-Body Intervention for Inflammatory Conditions: Results from a 26-Week Randomized, Non-Blinded, Parallel-Group Trial. J Clin Med. 2021 Jul 14;10(14):3107. doi: 10.3390/jcm10143107. PMID: 34300273; PMCID: PMC8305779.