A woman does gentle stretching exercises in a pool

Psoriatic Arthritis And Exercise, Am I Doing Enough?

I have been told time and time again that exercise will help with my psoriatic arthritis symptoms. And the people and doctors who remind me of this aren’t wrong. Exercising does help. It can reduce inflammation and pain, plus increase flexibility.

The tricky part of exercising with PsA is finding a form that improves the quality of my physical health without increasing pain or causing injury. Due to additional chronic illnesses and a couple of surgical errors, I have not been able to work out consistently or at the same level throughout the past 20 years.

The importance of listening to your body

That said, except for recovery time for surgeries and injuries, I could have followed a consistent exercise routine if I listened to my body and not my desires.

Before PsA, I exercised with the mindset of “No pain, no gain.” If I didn’t hurt after a workout, I didn’t do enough. The problem with practicing this mantra was that I was creating more issues by pushing my body to its limits.

Instead of decreasing, my inflammation would increase. I injured myself more times than I can remember. Each injury required recovery time which set me back in my goals. My goals weren’t the only thing to take a hit, so did my ego. I so badly wanted to prove that I could do whatever I wanted despite having psoriatic arthritis.

Adapting to a new exercise routine

Most of 2020 and 2021 have been spent on bed rest for torn abdominal muscles. Obviously not PsA related, but it sure affected my ability to exercise. I am finally on the mend!

But that doesn’t mean that I can resume the exercises I was doing before. My abdominal muscle injury will most likely never fully heal. It requires me to be extremely cautious with how I move my body and limits my ability to lift things.

I am getting to know my body and accepting that it isn’t what it was before. Each day I note what I was able to do without additional pain and what activity increased it. And that is what is helping me create a new exercise routine.

Accepting limitations and moving forward

At the moment, 15 minutes a day of warm water stretching and light exercises work for me. Would I like to do more? Sure, but I refuse to set myself up for failure or injury again, so I accept what I can do.

I know that 15 minutes does not sound like much, but let me tell you, after being bed-bound for over a year, it is a lot! Accepting that I would not see results as I did with more vigorous workouts, I am surprised by how my body is responding to short daily routines. My blood pressure is lower, and my flexibility is increasing.

Wondering if you are exercising too much or little? If you feel worse long after exercising or are injuring yourself often, you are probably doing too much. If what you are doing does not add to your pain and allows you to function at the same or higher level than before, then you are doing a great job of listening to your body.

What form(s) of exercise does your body prefer?

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