Woman biking

Getting Back on the Bike with Psoriatic Arthritis

Last month, I went for a bike ride, outside. It was the first time going for a ride in about a decade. Sure, I’ve used the bike at the gym. However, I haven’t been able to comfortably or safely go biking due to psoriatic arthritis for the past several years.

We are trying to remain healthy during this pandemic. So, we’ve looked for different ways to stay active.

Finding ways to exercise

I used to get my steps in by going to the store. Stores with good air conditioning were my favorite places to go and accomplish getting daily steps accomplished. Walking is painful for me on most days, as my arthritis targets the plantar fascia area of my feet. So on bad days, I would lean on a cart and get those steps in.

I mention air conditioning because I live in a particularly hot and humid climate. My feet will become stiff and swollen with the slightest change in the weather. Heat and humidity are triggers for my PSA. I have friends who thrive in it. I don’t--and I never have.

As we quickly approach summer, my husband and I have tried to find things that make outdoor physical activities a little easier. He went for runs, and I tried going for a walk. I swear every mosquito in a five-mile radius found me while I was on that walk.

So, my next logical step was trying biking for the first time since 2010. I wish I was joking.

Preparing for the ride

Since it had sat dormant for so long, the bike needed a little love. My husband set out one afternoon and gave it a tune-up. I had no idea he even knew how to do that, let alone insert a new tube into a tire.

I also didn’t know we possessed tire tubes? But we did and now my bike has a new tube. After the ceremonial ooh’s and aah’s over his bike work, I had to actually ride the bike. Not going to lie, I was nervous.

Hopping back on the bike

I was nervous that a foot, ankle, or hand would begin to swell up. I got nervous about moving the wrong way and triggering a charley horse. What I didn’t contemplate was how hard it was going to be.

We biked about 3 miles during that first ride. My hands hurt from holding the handlebar grips. My feet hurt from the pedal positioning. It felt so foreign, and I started getting really angry as I remembered back to my youth.

I remember biking for hours as a kid, and as a teen. I even went biking as a teen when psoriatic arthritis first made a presence in my life. This was different. It was hard.

Biking with psoriatic arthritis was... doable

What was once so easy as a kid… was now very hard. I was quiet after we got home. My husband knew I was deep in thought and prodded to find out what was bothering me. I told him that no matter how many good days I have at any time, there are little reminders of how much freedom psoriatic arthritis has robbed from me.

“But you rode your bike, and you’re still standing, and you’re not writhing in pain.” His perspective was everything. I was still standing. Nor was I writhing in pain. Was I uncomfortable? Sure.

Did my hands ache because I was gripping the handlebars? Yep. I had not ridden a bike in maybe ten years. We rode three miles that day. I rode three miles! I’ll ride again.

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