Walking and running are healthy activities, but they can also cause inflammation in those with psoriatic arthritis.
Marv Smith, a physical therapist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, gives us some guidance on what people with psoriatic arthritis should do once they finish that big walk or race with Team NPF to reduce inflammation.
Build strength in unexpected places
Stretching after a workout is a good idea, but this is also a good time to help parts of your feet that are not addressed in traditional walking or running programs: your toes. You can find videos for abduction (spreading toes) or adduction (pinching toes together) online. You should also work with your physical therapist to make sure you’re doing these exercises correctly.
Ice and heat
Smith recommended ice as a good recovery tool. Ice can decrease the inflammatory effects of stress caused by repeated impact on a muscle or joint. He suggested applying ice for eight to 15 minutes on sore areas. You could even give your feet a five-minute ice bath. Repeat this one to three times a day for about three days.
After the second day, you can use heat “to loosen up the stiff parts.” Be aware that heat can increase blood flow to the areas where it’s applied, meaning it can also cause inflammation.
Smith said you could also try alternating ice and heat applications to create “a pumping effect.” First, apply five minutes of heat to bring in healthy oxygenated blood, then five minutes of ice to reduce inflammation. Do this for two to three cycles, always ending with ice.
A light massage to stimulate blood flow through cramping muscles can help work out inflammation. The emphasis here is on “light.” Your massage therapist should work from the top of the calf through the ankle and end at the front of the foot.
Don’t go barefoot just yet
Smith strongly advised against walking barefoot after an athletic event, whether it’s a 1K or marathon. He said the foot should be supported while given time to recover from the event.
Shoe technology has advanced to the point where there are sandals and other casual footwear that provide good arch support but are still comfortable to wear around the house or in places where traditional shoes are inconvenient. Some brands Smith mentioned are Abeo, Ahnu, OluKai and Sole. Don’t wear these shoes for a long time or for walking long distances. They provide arch support but not when they’re doing a lot of work!
Bonus tip: If you don’t have a PT, you can find one at www.MoveForwardPT.com.
The information posted on the NPF Blog is not intended as, and is not, a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.
Driving discovery, creating community
For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.