If you can, working with a specialist such as a physical therapist can help you learn the correct techniques. However, this is not always possible, and there are plenty of videos and articles out there that explain how to do exercises properly. You can search the SELF fitness section for tutorials or the American Council on Exercise database. Additionally, it can help you shape your movements slowly and focus on how you are moving.
4. Try gentle cardio training if you are new to training.
Michael Humphrey, CSCS and physical therapist at Northwestern Medicine in Illinois, says cardio is a great entry point for people just starting a fitness program or returning to a fitness program after taking a break. Start with a short, gentle, low-stress workout that you can do consistently to build momentum.
Humphrey suggests choosing activities like walking, swimming, aqua aerobics, or an elliptical machine to get your heart rate up without putting any strain on your joints. Bicycling can be a great, gentle activity if you don’t have sacroiliac joint pain associated with psoriatic arthritis, according to Dr. Iversen. (The sacroiliac joints connect the lowest part of your spine to the two sides of your pelvis.) If you need something a little gentler, she recommends yoga or tai chi.
Dr. Bilsborrow says you may be able to run or do other highly effective workouts if you enjoy them and your symptoms are well under control. It’s safest to consult a physical therapist or rheumatologist first to discuss whether these can be harmful to your joints, says Dr. Iversen.
5. Consider adding resistance training.
You may be concerned about straining joints, which can already be painful. However, weight training is a great way to build muscle (which support your joints) and relieve your arthritis pain – as long as you are in good shape and you don’t worsen your symptoms, Dr. Bilsborrow. To develop a strength training routine that doesn’t put too much strain on your joints, all of the experts we’ve spoken to suggested working closely with a professional if you can.
To avoid injury, it is very important to consider your particular situation when adding weights. According to Dr. Iversen, psoriatic arthritis often affects the DIP joints (the little finger joints closest to your nail bed), which can make it really difficult to lift a heavy barbell safely. In that case, you may want to lift lighter dumbbells if you can handle them, or use weighted resistance cuffs that wrap your ankles and wrists, says Dr. Iversen. (The Fragraim ankle weights are a popular option on Amazon, $ 21.)
If you experience a lot of fatigue, Humphrey recommends strategizing your workout by focusing on compound exercises that use multiple joints. These target multiple muscle groups at the same time and offer more bang for your buck.
Deadlifts, squats, and pushups are good examples of compound movements.
6. Stretch throughout the day (including before and after weight training).
Dr. Iversen encourages people to stretch and exercise throughout the day as this can help with joint stiffness, especially if your lifestyle is sitting at the computer for hours every day. “Studies have shown that it is very important to change positions often, every hour or so when you can, whether it be to get up and get a glass of water or change position at your desk,” says Dr. Iversen.
Even if you are active all day, stretching and warming up is very important when doing weight training, says Dr. Iversen. She explains that when you have joint pain, you tend to flex your joints by default. The problem is, this creates tension in your extensor muscles (like the triceps, quadriceps, and back extensors) that can affect your shape and increase your risk of injury. The specific stretches she recommends vary from person to person. “I tend to have people focus on what is bothering them the most,” says Dr. Iversen.