Exercise Classes & Psoriatic Arthritis
It sounds contradictory in its very statement. How on earth can someone who has psoriatic arthritis and daily pain possibly do group exercise and CrossFit?
It was me. I was the person asking this question. Gym? Sure, yes. But CrossFit? No way. While the gym allowed for general movements that were easier for my body, I thought it was helping me keep a range of motion. Now if only I knew then what I knew now.
The benefits of CrossFit & group exercise
CrossFit became a super popular workout a few years ago and is practiced by members of over 13,000 affiliated gyms in 120 countries. The group exercise classes are a form of high-intensity interval training. The classes focus on a strength and conditioning workout that is made up of functional movement performed at a high-intensity level.
These movements are actions like squatting, pulling, pushing, etc. Many workouts feature variations of squats, push-ups, and weight lifting that last for predetermined amounts of time to help build muscles. I realize this sounds impossible for a PsA patient. I am lucky enough to still have mild psoriatic arthritis and it makes things easier.
Under the watchful eye of my CrossFit coach, I have made such progress in my training in the last six months. More than I have in the last five years. My range of motion is better and I feel an overall improvement in my health. I must stress - everyone's abilities differ.
The right kind of trainer
Any kind of training, including CrossFit, should be done under the watchful eye of a qualified instructor who knows your health history. While this may seem like just something that people say, it is vital in my opinion. My coach knows exactly what my health issues are, what movements I struggle with.
We have a physical assistant on-site and two highly qualified coaches doing the training. If I experience discomfort or pain while I am working out, the trainer will immediately tell me that I need to stop or scale back.
My trainer never makes me feel like I am failing cause I cannot do it the same way others do it. Your coach should be there to motivate you and keep you safe during movements.
An increased range of motion
An increased range of motion has been one of my greatest gains from CrossFit. I've taught my body to do new things in small ways so that I can move easier. Having my movement restricted at such a young age has been really difficult for me. So it was one of my main focus points.
Lots of stretching and essential warming up has really helped with this. Along with learning to move differently, I am strengthening muscles along the way to help support my joints too.
My muscles have seen a great improvement too which is so lovely. While it takes nothing away, it sure makes other aspects of my movement easier.
Patience is a virtue
If I could have practiced patience and my body's limitations earlier in life, it would have spared me a lot of drama and frustration. However, in my aging years, I have learned to do just that.
Start off slow, work within your limits and start to increase and push boundaries when safe and only a little at a time. You are not going to get into this and see immediate results. There are going to be days when things are harder than others.
If this is something you want to try, give it time and you will see the changes and small things becoming easier.
Adjust movement for you
Even if you aren’t quite ready to jump full force into CrossFit, there are effective elements of the workout that you can incorporate into your current exercise routine including functional movements, race against the clock, and doing a different movement every minute on the minute.
CrossFit and intense training are not for everyone. You should never train if it hurts you. Check with your doctor and get yourself the right shoes. Please only train with a qualified professional.
Share your health history. It is the only way that they can help you attain your goals. It is not impossible even if some days it feels that way.
Do you have a sleep disorder (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your PsA?