Should You Exercise with Psoriatic Arthritis?

Motion is lotion, so movement is vital to helping the pain and stiffness of arthritis.

Can you exercise and do physical therapy if you have psoriatic arthritis? Of course you can: Not only are exercise and physical therapy important ways to help you manage psoriatic arthritis symptoms, but they can help you feel well, too.

Exercise and physical therapy are typically very safe, effective ways to deal with psoriatic arthritis. This article walks you through the benefits of exercise and physical therapy for psoriatic arthritis.

Physical Therapy for Psoriatic Arthritis

Physical therapy is broken out into 2 main types of treatments: passive and active. Both of these treatment types can help you manage your psoriatic arthritis.

With passive treatments, the physical therapist does the majority of the work—a deep tissue massage, for example. With active treatments, you do most of the work. At-home exercises are an example of an active treatment.

The goal of both passive and active treatments is to ease joint pain, swelling, stiffness, muscle spasms, and other psoriatic arthritis symptoms. Physical therapy also helps to strengthen your muscles as well as restore normal joint function so that you can perform more of your daily activities.

Physical therapy can also be an excellent starting place for developing a regular exercise routine so that you can take good care of your body even after you leave the physical therapist’s office.

A physical therapist will develop a treatment plan just for you—taking into consideration your symptoms, lifestyle, and treatment goals.

Your treatment plan will include the 2 types of treatments. Most likely, it will begin with passive treatments to prepare your body for the active treatment part of physical therapy. When your body is ready, the physical therapist will teach you how to do active treatments so you can do them on your own.

Talk to your doctor right away about starting a physical therapy program to help you manage psoriatic arthritis. Your primary care doctor, rheumatologist, or physiatrist can prescribe physical therapy. Your doctor can also recommend a physical therapist who has experience working with patients who have psoriatic arthritis.

Exercise for Psoriatic Arthritis

When it comes to exercising with psoriatic arthritis, simple can be a good thing. In fact, you should avoid doing high-impact exercises such as running and heavy weight lifting when you have psoriatic arthritis because those can harm your joints. Instead, stick with gentle, more moderate exercise.

A consistent workout routine works to control psoriatic arthritis flare-ups and helps combat the stiffness associated with this condition.

Exercise offers a range of benefits for psoriatic arthritis, including:

  • decreases fatigue
  • helps you maintain a healthy weight (important because too much weight puts pressure on your joints)
  • increases your range of motion and flexibility
  • reduces joint pain, swelling, and stiffness
  • strengthens muscles, joints, and bones

It’s important to eventually include the 3 main types of exercise in your workout: aerobic, strengthening, and flexibility (stretching) exercises. But if you’re new to exercise, focus on flexibility exercises first.

You should seek the help of a qualified professional to get you going on an exercise program. A personal trainer—or a physical therapist—who has experience working with arthritis patients is a good start. But of course, talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Your workout should include 15 minutes of flexibility exercises. Once you’re able to do 15 continuous minutes of flexibility exercises, you can add strengthening and aerobic exercises to your routine.1

Fortunately, you have numerous options when it comes to exercise, so you’ll never get bored. For example, you can go for a swim or take a walk to get some aerobic exercise. Light weight lifting is an example of a strengthening exercise, and gentle yoga is an example of a flexibility exercise you can do.

Using weights or resistance training (your own body weight) in your workout helps muscles work harder and become stronger so they can reduce stress on your joints and protect them from injury.1

Mild soreness is normal after the first few days of beginning an exercise program. But if your pain and other psoriatic arthritis symptoms get worse, stop exercising immediately and call your doctor. It’s not worth it to exercise through the pain.

Living Well with Psoriatic Arthritis

As part of an overall treatment plan for psoriatic arthritis, exercise and physical therapy are great additions: They give you the tools to help protect your joints by teaching you how to take care of them.

Updated on: 11/17/15