Question: Can you perform high-intensity workouts while living with chronic psoriasis?
Answer: Definitely, yes, you can, and sometimes no. Let’s talk specifics.
High impact workouts are beneficial for your psoriasis; it's shown to reduce the risk of flare-ups in women by 25 to 30 percent. I won’t say this lightly, but don't let the fear of a breakout stop you from breaking a sweat, get educated on prevention. Exercise is considered preventative even though it may not appear that way. Those living with the condition are particularly vulnerable to a flare-up when the body, or the mind for that matter, is stressed. Exercising naturally reduces inflammation and de-stresses you.
Most of us living with psoriasis already know that sweat stings, and worse, it irritates psoriasis plaques.
A sweatband can provide some protection in this situation. Some say this also helps with scalp psoriasis: wicking away moisture that would otherwise clog hair follicles or irritate. If you’re worried about appearances the good news is, sweatbands don't have to look like they're straight out of the 80s.
It’s entirely possible to buy a headband that looks good and keeps you cool, like Soulvation Society's Butter Soft Turband, made from moisture-wicking bamboo.
If you have recurring plaques on your extremities, sweatbands work wonders. Check out these cooling and UV protecting arm sleeves by Affordable Compression Socks. They're a little more expensive than its Nike competitor, but I like how they cover the top of my hands, which is a big problem area for me, so keeping them dry makes everything less annoying. One brand called Solbari makes sleeves with or without thumbholes, and its price isn't bad either.
When You Shouldn’t or How You Shouldn’t Workout if Living with Psoriasis
Here’s when the “sometimes no” comes in. If your skin condition is currently less than ideal, avoid the swimming pool, chlorine dries out skin very quickly. You can also skip the activities that make you pour sweat— essentially I’m saying during the worst bouts find some other low-impact way to get active. Save your skin.
However, if you've paid for it, attend that Muai Thai lesson and but also follow some tried and tested prevention guidelines— we’ll talk about that next.
Working Out and Preventing Psoriasis
OK, so the second thing to do is look for good habits already present in your life, such as replacing hot showers with warm showers or immediately slathering on lotion after you shower. Those practices become even more important after an intense workout. It is best to rinse off/bird bath, pat dry, moisturize, and change into loose-fitting, dry clothing after a sweat sesh. Utilize your gym's locker room, you are afterall, paying for it. With psoriasis and sweaty workouts, time is of the essence. Ya gotta at least wipe down or the sweat will clog your pores, irritate plaques, and make the condition worse.
In the event you experience the condition on your scalp, then the sort of shampoo used and how frequently becomes crucial for prevention. Professionals recommend using a product containing coal tar to remove irritants and build-up from the scalp. It’s a bit trial and error but let’s say you’re in the gym five days a week, depending on your hair type you could wash your hair two to three times a week to cleanse the scalp of the scaliness or build-up.
The fear of triggering a worse condition by frequently washing isn't going to keep plaque triggers like sweat, dead skin cells, and whatever else from sitting on your scalp. It's going to make it worse.
Of course for those of us with coils, that means more care is needed, more moisturizing, and of course donning the sacred bonnet. In summary, if you are experiencing a truly, bad bout of psoriasis don’t go run a half-marathon or the stair master. Instead of high-impact work try the recruitment bike or free-weights.
Prevention is key:
- After working out, shower or rinse off
- Wear loose-fitting clothing
- Keep sweat off infected skin with sweat bands
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
Don't let your skin condition keep you from exercising because in the long run, it's going to make your symptoms better. Exercise reduces inflammation, so your psoriasis doesn't flare up as often.