Yoga for arthritis might be the key for sufferers to ease joint pain. Learn about its benefits and basic positions here.
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Yoga for Arthritis: 7 Benefits and Basic Positions
Benefits of Yoga for Joint Pain
Many cases of arthritis are a result of the modern sedentary lifestyle, where the lack of movement restricts proper lubrication needed for optimal joint function. This is where yoga, a discipline for strength and flexibility, comes beneficial.
Here are a handful of benefits of yoga for arthritis:
1. Improves Physical Function
Yoga is an ideal form of exercise for those with arthritis because it is slow, gentle, and exerts less pressure on inflamed joints, unlike light jogging or weight lifting. It can also help build muscles that protect joints from excess tension and inflammatory stress.
2. Promotes a Better Range of Motion
The stretching and relaxed motions of yoga can also help in improving back and joint flexibility.
In a randomized control study, pain-related disability and spinal flexibility of patients with chronic lower back pain improved after seven days of doing a residential yoga-based program.
3. May Help Reduce Pain
The more stress you’re experiencing, the more pain you’re bound to feel due to the amount of cortisol coursing through your body. Since yoga is both a physical and mental exercise that includes mindfulness, meditation, and introspection, it can help practitioners reframe the outlook of arthritis patients and help them deal with pain and stressors better.
Cortisol Definition: AKA the stress hormone
4. May Relieve Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Studies discussed in Arthritis Foundation showed that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who practiced Iyengar yoga for six weeks had improvements with their pain and other symptoms. Another study mentioned in the same site found a reduced rheumatoid factor and C-reactive protein, which are blood markers associated with inflamed joints.
Iyengar Yoga Definition: A traditional type of yoga focused on the precision, details, and alignment of postures
5. Aids in Weight Loss
As an exercise, yoga helps decrease the absorption of glucose and improves metabolism, which are key factors in weight loss. The lighter weight then reduces the stress on the joints in the knees and ankles.
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6. May Help Keep a Healthy Heart
A lesser-known risk factor for rheumatic arthritis and osteoarthritis is cardiovascular disease. This is because heart disease comes with risk factors that exacerbate arthritis: stress, obesity, and high blood pressure.
Yoga can help in the:
- Regulation of body weight
- Improvement of blood circulation
- Increase of hemoglobin and red blood cell biosynthesis
- Regulation of cholesterol levels
7. Detoxifies the Body
Yoga Poses for Arthritis
1. Forward Fold
This yoga pose helps stretch the hamstrings, back, and core. It also improves flexibility.
It helps to use a chair or two if your arthritis flares up when attempting this move.
- Gently roll down your spine so your head hangs forward. Make sure your weight is supported in the middle of your feet, not your heels or toes, and that your knees are not locked.
- Basic: You can adapt this move by holding onto your shins for balance, or placing a chair in front of you to hold on to.
- Advanced: You can either reach for your opposite elbows or put your hands behind your back, drawing your head lower and stretching your hamstrings further.
This position helps stretch your core and work on arm strength at the same time. It also engages your back muscles.
- Lie facedown, resting the tops of your feet on the floor. Your palms should also be flat on the floor beside your chest, and elbows tucked close to your torso.
- Lift your head, neck, and chest off the floor and keep your eyes forward. The feet and legs must also be kept down.
- Engage the muscles of your upper back. Your arms should not be doing all the work but instead, offer balance and support.
- Basic: If you can’t use your hands, use your elbows instead. You can also do it standing, against a wall, or leaning against a chair.
- Advanced: Lock your fingers behind your back or hold your opposite wrist to pinch shoulder blades together, engaging more back muscles.
3. Side Angle
This is possibly among the best yoga poses for knee pain. It helps strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee, which can provide protection and support in the long run.
- Place feet wider than hip-width, with the right foot out at 90 degrees, and the left foot at 45 degrees.
- Bend your right knee slowly, making sure the knee is directly over your toes.
- Rest your right elbow atop the bent right knee, and extend your left arm along your left ear. There should be a straight, diagonal line from the left foot to the extended arm.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Do this move while seated on a chair to avoid arthritis flareup in the knees. Instead of extending an arm, it can instead be placed on the hip.
4. Seated Spinal Twist
This yoga pose helps loosen and stretch the spinal muscles and make them flexible.
- Start by sitting on the floor, legs extended. You can cushion yourself with a pillow or blanket for extra support.
- Pull in one knee and lift the foot across the other extended leg. Plant it opposite the other leg, keeping it in as close to the opposite hip as much as possible.
- Wrap your opposite arm around the bent knee as if to hug it tight.
- Remember to sit tall with your spine lengthened. If it’s difficult for you to sit on the floor, this pose can be done on a chair, or on an elevated platform.
For some people, arthritis is inevitable. Moving less can also cause arthritis to appear earlier in much younger individuals.
Practicing yoga is a gentle yet effective way to get moving while increasing flexibility, mobility, and strength at the same time. It may also help to stick to a healthy lifestyle that involves a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, and sufficient hydration.
You can try taking collagen-promoting supplements as well. Try the Body Protective Complex from Dr. Seeds.
Have you ever tried yoga before? Did the exercise suit you? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!