Beyond Yoga: How to Keep Joints Flexible With Psoriatic Arthritis
Casey Nilsson | Feb 14, 2018
Taking a full-on yoga class when you have psoriatic arthritis might seem like an exercise in self-flagellation. (I’ve been there.) Read on for low-impact, customizable ways to loosen your stiff joints.
According to a study published in the Journal of Rheumatology in 2016, middle-aged and older adults with arthritis saw “significant reductions in joint pain, stiffness and physical limitation,” as well as an increased quality of life, when they participated in swim therapy for three months. Functional capacity also improved.
Go for a bike ride
The aforementioned study also examined land-based cycling therapy, another low-impact option that’s more frequently prescribed by rheumatologists. Arthritis patients who rode bikes for three months saw improvements on the same scale as the swimmers.
Go for a walk
Walking is another low-impact exercise that loosens up key joints in the feet, ankles, knees, hips and — depending on how hard you work — shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees. Just be sure you’re wearing the right shoes for the job.
Wiggle your toes
For arthritis in your feet, small daily exercises, especially first thing in the morning, will reduce the duration of morning stiffness. Wiggle your toes in 10-second intervals, then manually massage each joint for improved range of motion.
Try hand stretches
Exercises for arthritis of the hands and wrists can also be done in bed, first thing in the morning, without much disruption to your daily routine. This article on hand exercises for RA is a great resource for people with psoriatic arthritis, too.
Sweat in some heat therapy
In 2009, researchers in the Netherlands published findings from a study that exposed patients with RA and ankylosing spondylitis to twice-weekly infrared sauna treatments for a month. Both patient categories saw clinical improvement in pain and stiffness — a good sign for PsA sufferers looking to sweat it out in a local sauna.
Dance like no one’s watching
Movement, across the board, is the best way to reduce stiffness and improve flexibility in joints. But not all moves are created equal. Dancing to a favorite song is a low-impact way to loosen up your joints without adding undo pressure on sore knees and ankles. (Just keep the break-dancing to a minimum.)
Try chair stretches
For knee and leg PsA, these clinician-approved chair exercises fit the bill. Do them at home or at work; your joints will thank you later.
Get a massage
A 2013 study out of the University of Miami, for which arthritis patients were administered massage therapy for four weeks, noted that moderate-pressure massage improved patients’ grip strength and range of motion. Another UM massage therapy study, completed the following year, saw “significant short-term reductions” in pain for patients with neck arthritis who received massage therapy — by a professional and self-administered — for four weeks.
Take appropriate medications and supplements
The quickest way to target the inflammation that causes joint pain is through medications and supplements. Speak with your doctor to determine a treatment regimen that’s right for you.