Psoriatic Arthritis: 7 Stretches for Healthy Joints
Up to one third of people who suffer from psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis as well. This causes pain, swelling, and in and around the joints. While this can develop at any point, it is most likely to appear during your 30s or 40s. Several factors may play a role in one’s development of psoriatic arthritis, including genes, environmental factors, and the immune system.
Delaying treatment of psoriatic arthritis for as few as six months may result in permanent damage to the joints. Recognizing the disorder early and treating it properly are both critical factors to relieving the pain and preventing joint damage. Exercise is an important part of managing psoriatic arthritis. Physical activity can help to keep the joints loose and pain-free, while also helping you to remain strong and flexible. Here are seven stretches for healthy joints.
1. Stretch your hands.
Beginning training with a physical therapist is important so you can learn your limits on stretching and be certain you are doing it correctly. One great stretch for the hands involves resting your forearm on a table, allowing your hand to hang down. While flexing the wrist as far up as possible, clench your fist. Do ten repetitions of this stretch.
2. Do finger exercises.
Lay your hand, with your palm up, flat on a table. Clench all of your fingers inward to the palms of your hands. Alternatively, put your palms flat on the table and lift each finger as high as it can go one at a time. Finally, touch each fingertip to your thumb, one by one, to exercise the small muscles in the extremities.
3. Exercise the forearm and elbow.
To do this, rotate your arm from hand up to hand down, flat on a table with your elbow tucked by your side. Keep your elbow stable while doing this, so you are really only working the muscle in the forearm. Do ten repetitions of this.
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4. Stretch your neck.
While sitting up straight, reach over the top of your head with one hand and lightly pull and stretch the head towards the shoulder. Hold this stretch for about five seconds before repeating it on the other side. Do not pull to the point of pain, but just enough that you are able to feel a deep stretch.
5. Stretch your back.
Lie down on your back on a flat, firm surface to stretch your back out. Bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the ground. Tighten your stomach in order to make your back as flat as possible before slightly lifting your feet to stretch your back. Hold this stretch for five seconds, repeating the movement ten times.
6. Stretch your sides.
While standing up straight with your shoulder back, reach one arm towards the sky and lean slightly one way, further reaching your arm up and out to create a deep stretch in the sides of the abdomen. This will also help to stretch out the back and loosen the muscles around the spine. Do this on both sides, holding the stretch for about five seconds each time.
7. Exercise your feet.
Standing with your feet flat on the ground, press down with the ball of your foot, increasing your arch. This will create a deep stretch within the foot. Alternatively, sit down with your legs straight out in front of you. Stretch each foot back towards your body as far as it will go, before pointing your toe back towards the ground. While staying in this same seated position, make a complete circle using your ankles, so every muscle in your foot gets a good stretch.
While doing exercises for psoriatic arthritis, include stretching in the warm-up and cooldown periods, before doing any aerobic exercise, such as walking or swimming. It is also important to include strength-building exercises on alternate days to keep your muscles working through the management of psoriatic arthritis.
Because any joint may be affected by PA, it is important to include stretches and exercises for all joints as often as possible. Flexibility exercises can be done daily, for about 15 minutes each day at a minimum, and repeated as necessary. During your stretches, be sure to hold them for at least five seconds each once you feel a good stretch, but not to the point of being in pain. Be sure to not bounce during stretching exercises, as this can pose a higher risk for injury in the muscles.