Yoga can be very beneficial for those who suffer from the painful and sometimes debilitating symptoms of arthritis, as Yoga offers both slow and gentle movement that can reduce stiffness in the joints. Optimizing overall joint health and reducing flare-ups, Yoga poses are designed to rebalance our physical body and strengthen the muscles that surround our joints. The result is less pressure in the joints and therefore less pain, more mobility.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints. There are many types of arthritis, but the two most common are: Osteoarthritis & Rheumatoid Arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage surrounding the joint becomes damaged or worn down and bones begin to rub against one another. Causes can be genetics, old injuries and poor postural habits. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that causes swelling and redness of the joint causing joint deformities particularly in the hands and feet.
Often those with arthritis feel weak and vulnerable. This can also be accompanied by exhaustion or even depression from the day-to-day life of chronic pain, leading to a decrease in overall health and even a decrease in immune system functioning.
Ensuring that our clients with arthritis are moving in a pain free range of motion is the best way to keep them safe. Taking extra time for a full body warm-up is also imperative.
My Mom is the Proof
Years ago, I accompanied my mom to an appointment with her Rheumatologist and her nurse says: “if you don’t use it, you lose it!” How refreshing and re-affirming to have someone in healthcare telling patients exactly what we in the fitness industry tell our clients all the time. She went on to say, you have to push yourself when you are tired because if you don’t you will continue to feel worse. This is truly the catch-22 of Arthritis. It hurts to move. Those suffering need to work in that delicate balance of moving without over doing it, but also understanding the difference between mild pain that can be worked through and when it really needs to be a rest day.
My mom who has been diagnosed with both rheumatoid and osteo arthritis and also deals with the complications of scoliosis practices Yoga everyday. When I was writing the program curriculum for Yoga for Pain Management, I filmed both a gentle Yoga practice and a chair based Yoga class. Every morning she pulls them up on her iPad and goes through the 20min. practice and on good days she adds a few extra exercises to help build strength in her legs. I know this is true, because I can hear my voice echoing from the basement where her suite is and it makes me smile (though I still need to shut the door sometimes because it is a bit distracting and weird to hear my own voice!).
Use Your Props
When working with arthritic clients, props such as chairs, straps and bolsters or pillows are helpful. A strap with loops is ideal as it combines loops down the length of the strap, creating the ability to slide hands inside the loop allowing for easier gripping. Props in general give individuals with hesitancy, stiffness or balance issues the ability to practice with confidence and safety.
Curious to Learn More?
Yoga for Pain Management helps us define the specific tools from Yoga and how they can be effective in daily pain management. Offered in a few ways to help you best: an online course you can purchase and stream anytime, or a live/virtual course where we go through the information together, allowing you to ask your questions in real time and get a more personalized experience.
The next live/virtual course is happening Friday, July 23rd 12pm – 4pm EDT
Click HERE for more info!