Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) causes joint pain and can lead to limited mobility. Although certain exercises can worsen symptoms, others can help in several ways.
PsA is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can worsen over time. Chronic swelling can damage joints, which can limit mobility.
There is currently no cure for PsA. However, treatments and lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise, can help improve the symptoms.
The following are some of the best exercises that can help improve the symptoms associated with PsA.
Moderate exercise can lead to health benefits such as improved endurance and weight loss. Exercise can also help reduce joint pain and stiffness and improve range of motion.
The following exercises may help ease the symptoms associated with PsA.
Tai chi is a form of Chinese martial arts. It focuses on breathing, gentle movements, and meditation.
One 2016 study compared tai chi with physical therapy for people with osteoarthritis. The researchers found that tai chi helped improve quality of life and depression associated with arthritis.
Tai chi may have similar effects in people with PsA.
The benefits of yoga include improved strength and flexibility. According to one 2014 study, yoga can also help increase pain thresholds over time.
The researchers found that people who regularly practiced yoga had double the pain tolerance than those who did not practice yoga.
Walking is a low impact aerobic activity that may help people with PsA. Walking can help build strength, improve joint mobility, and provide a light cardio workout.
If PsA affects the knees, feet, or ankles, a person should talk to their doctor about shoe inserts or other walking aids to reduce stress on the affected joints.
Swimming provides a full body workout. It can improve joint stiffness and relax the muscles.
Swimming is also low impact, which means that a person can work out without putting stress on their joints.
Lifting weights can help improve muscle strength and support strong joints. A person should plan to have 2–3 days per week of weight training.
Individuals can use isometric holds if their joints are painful. An isometric hold works the muscle without moving the joint.
Certain exercises can worsen PsA symptoms.
For example, exercises that put stress on the joints can lead to additional pain or stiffness. These exercises include running, high intensity interval training, or playing a game of basketball.
A person should stop doing any exercise that causes their symptoms to get worse. A healthcare provider or personal trainer can recommend safe, alternative routines that will not aggravate a person’s symptoms.
PsA can affect the hands and feet, causing stiff joints, pain, and swelling. There are several steps a person can take at home to help relieve pain in these areas, especially while exercising.
For example, taking good care of the hands and feet can help prevent extra discomfort. Try the following tips before or after exercising:
- Use a foam roller to massage the wrists and arches of the feet.
- Wear gloves to prevent nail damage.
- Massage any stiff joints.
- Take breaks when exercising and rest frequently when walking long distances.
- Use cold or hot compresses to reduce swelling or pain.
- Regularly stretch the feet and legs.
- Use inserts to help alleviate pain from walking.
- Get proper footwear that provides support, stability, and space for swelling.
- Soak the hands and feet for short periods to alleviate joint pain, and use moisturizer afterward to prevent the skin from drying out.
Light-to-moderate exercise can help a person stay healthy. It also provides some relief from joint stiffness and inflammation. However, people with PsA should avoid any exercise that puts additional stress on the joints.
Both low impact cardio workouts, such as swimming or walking, and resistance training can help a person gain the benefits of exercise and prevent pain.
Making lifestyle changes, such as taking better care of the hands and feet, can also help.