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Running and Psoriasis: 5 Things to Know

Running and psoriasis don’t always go hand-in-hand…or foot-in-foot in this instance. Some people living with psoriasis find solace in running, perhaps because it can be a way to reduce stress;1 others struggle to lace up their running shoes. Psoriasis flare-ups can be very painful, and if you have flares anywhere on your legs – particularly the soles of your feet (which may be palmoplantar pustulosis)2 – running may be completely out of the question. So, if you are able to run, how do you balance your psoriasis and running? We asked two-time marathon finisher and psoriasis community member Shaun to share his tips on running while living with psoriasis. Here’s what we learned:

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff

And no, we’re not referring to not sweating during your run. We’re talking about how you shouldn’t let the little things about your day stop you from running.

Did someone stare at your red patch while you were walking down the street? Let it go.

Did a coworker avoid shaking your hand because they could see the flakes on your elbow? Don’t worry about it.

“The second you start that run, you put yourself in the zone,” says Shaun. “Nothing else matters at that moment. There’s no more negative feelings going through you. You don’t notice people looking at you while running. It’s just you and the open road.”

2. Choose wisely when it comes to clothing

The newest and coolest active-wear trends may not work well for those living with psoriasis. Shaun mentions that wearing tight clothes such as compression shorts, shirts and yoga pants may be uncomfortable for some. “Everyone is different when it comes to what they like to run in, but for me, sometimes tight clothing will irritate my skin. If you’re wondering what to wear, start with something you know will be comfortable and go from there.” Footwear may also make a difference, too. “Consider comfortable shoes with cotton socks. You want something that’s breathable, but will keep your feet warm as well.”

3. Do your best to avoid injury

We know, this seems like an ‘obviously!’ thing, but there are those out there who think they are training for the next ultra-marathon once they slip into their running shoes and want to PUSH IT TO THE LIMIT [insert loud, motivational voice]. Don’t get the wrong idea: there’s nothing wrong with giving it 100%, but it’s important to exercise caution. In some cases, injuries may trigger psoriasis flares, commonly referred to as Koebner’s Phenomenon.3 A small cut or a graze could potentially lead to a flare up, which may hinder your running.4 Shaun recommends the importance of running at your own pace. “It’s all about baby steps in the beginning, and that may help keep injuries at bay.” And of course, it’s important to speak with your physician if you have any concerns with injuries or exercise in general.

4. Enjoy it. No, really. Enjoy it.

We understand that working out is tough. In reality, it’s probably the last thing you want to do some days. But Shaun enjoys the days that he is able to go outside for a run. “If you can just focus on running, you get a sense of accomplishment when you’re finished. You realize that it was totally worth it, and in a weird way, your psoriasis – which may inhibit you at times – also allows you to appreciate those running days so much more.”

 5. Running is a club, and you can join it

Living with psoriasis may create some social walls and make it tough for you to meet and interact with people. Those who may feel isolated, even unaccepted by their peers, may find that running is a good way to meet people and share a common hobby. Shaun explains:

“I advise everyone who runs to join a run club. At first, you may feel a little self-conscious when wearing shorts with a red, scaly patch on your body, but others will likely be accepting to it. Run clubs are a great way to meet great people, and in my opinion, a great way to not feel defined by your skin condition.”

Just like the runner’s community, there’s another community that you can join: your psoriasis community. You can share the ups & downs of your condition, and maybe find some running tricks and tips along the way. You can ‘run on over’ to our Facebook and Twitter pages, or who knows, you may want to start your own psoriasis run club… 

  1. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Physical Activity Reduces Stress. https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st
  2. Everyday Health. When Psoriasis Affects Your Feet. Iliades, Chris, MD., Jones, Niya, MD, MPH. Last Assessed: 4.9.2013 http://www.everydayhealth.com/psoriasis/symptoms/when-psoriasis-affects-your-feet/
  3. The Koebner phenomenon. Sagi L, Trau H. Clin Dermatol. 2011 Mar-Apr;29(2):231-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=21396563
  4. Developing Shingles-Induced Koebner Phenomenon in a Patient With Psoriasis: A Case Report. Zhao YK, Zhang YQ, Wang F, Wu HH, Luo ZY, Luo DQ, Chen WN. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Jul;94(26):e1009. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=26131802

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