Get Moving! Easy Exercises at Home!
Although you may be in pain or experiencing discomfort, keeping yourself moving and getting exercise can be one of the best medicines for joint stiffness with PsA. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider to see if exercise can be beneficial for you, and what kind of movements you can perform safely. Although it may hurt at times, moving your joints (both affected and unaffected with PsA) can reduce swelling and pain in the long run. If you have questions or concerns beyond what you have discussed with your rheumatologist or general practitioner, you can also reach out to other movement specialists, such as physiotherapists, physical therapists, sports therapists, osteopaths, or chiropractors.
It can be so hard to get started with a safe and effective movement routine, especially when you are dealing with constant pain. So, we have compiled a list of simple movements and stretches that can count as therapeutic exercises (or exercises that are based on your exact needs) that can be done in a matter of minutes, and from home!
Fingers and Hands
- Support your forearms on a table and let your hands drape over the edge. Clasp your hands together and bend your wrist up and down. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Keep your elbow still and tucked at your side while resting your forearm palm-side down on the table. Take turns rotating your palm to face up and face back down, while keeping your elbow still. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times.
- Place your palm on a table and lift each finger one at a time off of the table as far as you can. Repeat this at least 5 times for each finger.
Neck and Back
- Sit up straight in a supportive chair with a back support. Tilt your head slowly towards one shoulder until the point where you can feel a stretch on the opposite side of your neck. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and then repeat on the other side. Repeat this idea with a side to side motion (like shaking your head “no”).
- Sitting in a neutral position in the same chair, pull your chin in towards your neck until you feel a stretch in your neck and hold for a second or two. Repeat this 5-10 times.
- Lie on your back on your bed or the floor—whatever is comfiest! Place your hands on your stomach, keep your shoulders flat, and bend your knees with the bottoms of your feet resting on the floor. Roll your knees side to side. Once you roll them as far as you can to one side, hold them there for at least 5 seconds. Repeat this 10 times on each side.
- Staying on your back with your shoulders and bottoms of your feet down flat, rest your arms at your sides. Push through your heels to lift your lower back and bottom off of the ground and hold this for 5-10 seconds, making a “bridge” with your lower body. Repeat this at least 10 times.
Feet and Toes
- While still lying down, extend your legs out like you are lying in a straight-body position. Pull your feet up, then push them back down, holding at the end of each motion for a second or two. This will look like “flexing” and “pointing” your toes, so to speak. Repeat this 10 times for each foot.
- In the same straight-body position, try wiggling your toes for about 5-10 seconds at a time, then taking a pause. Repeat this at least 10 times.
- Still in the same position, rotate or roll your feet around one way, making 10 complete circles in the same direction. Repeat this for the opposite direction on the same foot, and then repeat the whole process for the other foot.
As always, be careful when completing any exercise on your own, and check in with your healthcare team to determine what your true limits are. Although it may be very hard at first, these exercises are great, simple examples of things you can do without even straying far from your bed! It will take time, but eventually, you will be able to increase repetitions and the number of times you partake in these types of movements throughout the day. Just remember to start small!
Do you regularly track your psoriatic arthritis symptoms?