How to Enjoy Winter Sports With Psoriatic Arthritis

by Casey Nilsson Patient Advocate

It’s a vicious cycle: You’re stiff, so you sit. Then you’re stiffer from sitting, so you sit some more. Sitting, my arthritic comrades, is our enemy. In warm weather or cold, we need to move to loosen up our joints. And — lest we forget — winter sports and activities are fun! Remember fun? So get out there and snowshoe and sled your heart out with these winter adventure tips.

woman stretching on yoga mat

Warm Up Before You Chill

A short stretching session is a good idea before you head outdoors in winter. Cold temps mean less blood supply to the extremities, so send some heat their way before you start your adventure. Try these poses for PsA.

senior man wearing layers stretching outdoors

Wear Lots of Loose Layers

You want to keep warm, but you don’t want to restrict movement. Try mittens, like these, designed for arthritis, breathable cotton under-layers and a warm, weather-resistant outer layer.

Wear Slip-free Shoes or Boots That Fit

Make sure you’re wearing the right footwear for your adventure. Even if snow isn’t a contributing factor, you’ll want to be wary of slipping on ice. Make sure you’ve got the right shoes for the job, too. Consult this guide to help determine the right footwear for psoriatic arthritis, plus tips on how to take care of psoriatic feet.

couple jogging together in winter

Enlist a Buddy

Fun is important, but so is safety. If you have mobility issues, invite a friend or partner on your winter outdoor adventure.

woman throwing snow in air during snowshoe adventure

Try a Low-impact Sport

Snowshoeing is a great alternative to skiing or snowboarding in snowy areas. (Bonus: You don’t need a lift ticket.) Newbies should choose a flat path and ask a friend to cruise first for an easier go of it. Keep your stride short, and disperse weight from heel to toe, so you don’t add undo pressure on your knees and thighs.

person in winter clothes hiking
Nick Dietrich

Take a Hike

Beach walks or hikes in the woods are just as serene in winter as in the warmer months. Keep a bottle of water handy to stay hydrated.

Stick to the Bunny Slope

If you’re a skier at heart, don’t risk a fall down a triple black diamond; you and your knees will regret it for years to come. Instead, get a little rush from a safer slope and call it quits before you get tired. Fatigue can lead to a tumble downhill.

Take the Path Well-traveled

No matter the athletic adventure, make sure you choose a clear route without obstacles such as tree roots, stumps, or rocks.

senior couple sledding together

Choose the Easy Sledding Hill

Grab your sled and head to a hill with a gradual slope, both to reduce your crash risk and to go easy on your foot, ankle, and knee joints during the climb back up.

Break Out the Skates

Ice skating and ice hockey are also great low-impact activities for people with psoriatic arthritis. Just keep falls (and, in ice hockey, fouls) in check, and make sure your skates are a good fit. For first-timers, find a frozen pond and scoot around the surface in your boots.

Take a Warm-up Break

Halfway through the day, head inside for a few minutes to warm up your joints.

Casey Nilsson
Meet Our Writer
Casey Nilsson

Casey Nilsson, an award-winning journalist and magazine editor based in Rhode Island, writes about autoimmune disease for HealthCentral. Casey is a 2018 Association of Health Care Journalists fellow, and her reporting on unfair labor conditions for people with disabilities was a finalist for the City and Regional Magazine Association Awards. Diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 2016, Casey enjoys digging into rheumatologic news, research and trends.