Have Achy Joints? Try Yoga - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on September 17, 2013

Have Achy Joints? Try Yoga

Yoga is an ancient form of exercise invented thousands of years ago in India, but it seems like, all of a sudden, it’s become an overnight sensation. And with good reason – there is a lot of evidence that there are a ton of health benefits to performing yoga exercises, including joint relief.

Yoga, which encompasses a series of deep stretching and strengthening exercises, can come in a variety of styles that range from gentle to vigorous. Some focus on spirituality and achieving a state of mental relaxation through concentrated breathing, while others emphasize each physical posture. For those with joint pain, a hatha yoga style is frequently recommended since this style often involves gentle poses and releases muscle tension.

Studies have even shown that those who do weekly yoga experience decreases in joint pain, muscle stiffness, and general discomfort, as well as improved flexibility, range of motion, and even muscle strength—all of which is recommended for those suffering from joint problems. A study conducted by Duke University Medical Center specifically found yoga to be an effective way to treat chronic pain for osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and fibromyalgia.

To get the most out of your yoga routine, joint pain sufferers must ensure they perform the poses correctly. When the positions are done properly, the movements allow swollen and painful joints to move smoothly over one another and increase strength and mobility. This may make yoga a safer alternative to some weight-bearing activities such as running, which can worsen already weak joints.

While you should ask your doctor and/or a certified yoga instructor for their recommendations on safe poses, here are a few to help get you started. Be sure to perform all gently and stop if you feel any pain. 

  • Cobra Pose: This is particularly good for back pain. You start by lying facedown on the floor. Place your hands flat down on the floor next to you, near the middle of your ribcage. Bring your legs together and press the tops of your feet into the floor. Lengthen your legs and press evenly through your hands. Lift your head and chest up and bring your shoulder blades down back, using your hands and arms to support you. Take five to ten deep breaths before slowly releasing back to the floor.  
  • Supported Warrior: This pose is good for knee pain. Stand up straight and place your hands against a wall at shoulder height. Bring your right foot forward to the wall and bend your elbows. Move your left foot about one to three feet behind you and bend your left knee to the floor. Hold for ten deep breaths. Straighten your left leg and bend your right knee. Hold for ten to fifteen seconds. Switch legs and repeat. 
  • Butterfly Pose: This is good for hip pain relief. Sit on your yoga mat or a blanket on the floor. Bring the bottoms of your feet together and keep your knees wide to create the shape of a diamond. Straighten your back and keep your shoulders relaxed as you breathe slowly. Gently bring your knees toward the floor. 

Crozer-Keystone Health System offers comprehensive musculoskeletal care. From conservative approaches to managing pain to spine and hand services, rehabilitation, and joint replacement surgery, the physicians of the Premier/Crozer-Keystone Orthopedics Partnership can help determine what plan works best for you. Appointments within 48 hours; call 1-877-CK-MOTION (1-877-256-6846) or visit www.ckmotion.org.

For information about yoga classes at the Healthplex® Sports Club, call (610) 328-8888.

 

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