Daily Yoga Could Reduce Arthritis Pain
Arthritis sufferers could benefit from practicing daily yoga moves to improve their flexibility and reduce joint pain.
The Arthritis Foundation has said that regular yoga could also help people with arthritis to improve their muscle strength and help them to relax and sleep better.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is where the cartilage that lines the joints gets thin, causing pain and stiffness. It most commonly affects the hands, hips and knees.
Rheumatoid arthritis happens when the immune system targets the joints, leading to pain and swelling. Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is focused on minimising joint inflammation.
Scientific studies have shown that regular yoga practice can help reduce joint pain, improve joint flexibility and movement, and improve sleep.
According to some studies, those who regularly practise yoga have lower levels of an inflammation-causing protein, suggesting that gentle yoga movements could reduce the inflammation that leads to rheumatoid arthritis.
A study from the University of Pennsylvania in the US looked at the effects of yoga on people with osteoarthritis in the knee. They found that people who took a 90-minute yoga class once a week for eight weeks reported significant reductions in pain and improvements in the function of their joints, as well as reduced joint stiffness.
Build up slowly
For people with arthritis, the more gentle forms of yoga are recommended, such as Iyengar or Hatha yoga, rather than the more strenuous types such as Bikram or Astanga yoga.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends building up slowly, especially for those who haven’t done yoga before, and also finding an experienced yoga instructor who understands the limitations that arthritis can cause. Yoga poses can be modified for people with arthritis, or aids such as chair or a block can be used to help the person maintain balance during the yoga poses.
The most beneficial impact has been seen when people practise yoga on a daily basis, even if this is simply doing some gentle yoga moves at home, rather than taking part in an organised class.
People with rheumatoid arthritis experience flare-ups of the condition, where the pain, swelling and stiffness gets worse for a few days or even weeks.
The NHS recommends doing gentle exercise during these flare-ups, especially exercises that help with range of movement, such as yoga, as this can improve flexibility and keep the joints moving, without over-taxing them.
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