In the human body, the movement of body parts takes place when the muscles contract and expand the joints. This movement also appropriates the blood circulation to keep the joints healthy. When muscles relax, the cells receive fresh blood that is rich in nutrients. When muscles contract, the cells remove the by-products of cellular metabolism by squeezing the blood out. Over time, the waste products get trapped in the joints and cells that reduce blood circulation, and build-up toxins.
Arthritis, characterized by stiffness in joints and pain in their motion, is due to inflammation in joints. Osteoarthritis, caused by the wear and tear of the joints, is one of the most common forms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the wear and tear of joints break down the cartilage – the cushion between the bones and the joints. The most common symptoms of Osteoarthritis are:
- Restricted movement of the joints
Benefits of Yoga for Osteoarthritis
Physical activity is one of the most effective ways to relieve Osteoarthritis. Gentle yoga poses, with slow paces and flexibility, are perfect in managing arthritis. By modifying the duration and difficulty of the yoga poses, you can customize them according to the severity of Osteoarthritis. Initially, if you suffer from limited mobility, you can use straps or wedges for support. Some of the most common benefits of arthritis-friendly yoga for Osteoarthritis are:
- Reducing the pain
- Relieving from stiffness and bettering mobility
- Improving mood
From beginners to experts, from young to old, these yoga poses help the patients in leading an active life and are safe for everyone.
Yoga Poses for Osteoarthritis
Below are the best yoga asanas that you can try daily to get relief from osteoarthritis pain.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
This yoga pose for beginners improves posture and reduces flat feet. Apart from strengthening the thighs, knees, and ankles, this pose also relieves backaches.
- Stand on the floor and your arms at the sides.
- Engage the abdominal and hamstring muscles by tucking your tailbone.
- Breathe in and extend your arms upward on the sides with your palms facing up.
- Exhale and bring your arms back down slowly.
Staff Pose (Dandasana):
Just like the Mountain Pose, this is another simple yet effective yoga pose for relieving stiffness.
- Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in the front.
- Maintain proper alignment against the wall. While keeping the lower back and head away from the wall, touch the wall with your shoulder blades.
- Keeping your thighs firm, rotate them towards each other while pressing them down.
- Stretch your ankles and use your heels to press out.
- Maintain this position for around 1-2 minutes.
Warrior 2 Pose (Virabhadrasana II)
This powerful and energetic pose is the most recommended yoga for arthritic knees.
- Start with the Mountain Pose and move your left foot back by around 4-feet as you exhale. Maintain your right knee over the right ankle.
- Align your left foot towards the right foot by 90 degrees. Keep the heel of your left foot with the heel of your right foot.
- Balance as you press down through the toe and edge of your back foot.
- Inhale while extending your arms alongside and keep them parallel to the floor. Face your arms downwards.
- Bend into the right knee while keeping your right shin perpendicular to the floor.
- Engage your core as you draw your low ribs into your body. Press through the toe of your back foot.
- Maintain this pose for around 1-2 minutes and repeat by switching the feet
Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
This Iyenger stretch helps to bring your heels closer to the pelvis.
- Sit down on the floor while keeping your legs straight in the front.
- Pull your heels towards your pelvis.
- Make your knees touch the floor on the sides while pressing the bottom of your feet together.
- Try to keep the outer edges of your feet on the floor.
- Maintain this position for 2-3 minutes.
The yoga poses for treating Osteoarthritis revolve around stretching your hands, spine, and hips. Here are some of the customized and modified yoga poses to reduce the restrictions in the joint.
Exercise for Hands
Stretching your hands opens up space in the joints and improves blood circulation. While exercising your hands, you aim to restore the natural positions of your fingers and palms.
- Start by standing in the mountain pose.
- Form the prayer position by folding your hands and bring them together in front of your chest.
- If your wrists are uncomfortable, you can bring the forearms closer.
- Inhale and relax your shoulders as you touch your fingers.
- Press your fingers and palms together gently as you exhale.
- Repeat for about 1-2 minutes and increase the pressure gradually.
Exercise for Spine
Increasing the blood circulation in your spine is key to its health. A simple yet effective pose for improving your spinal health is the cat-stretch pose as described below:
- At first, you need to keep your knees and hands on the floor.
- Maintain your knees under your hips and align your hands under your shoulders.
- Round your back and push it toward the ceiling as you inhale.
- During exhalation, bring your spine down towards the floor and lift your tailbone and chin up.
- Repeat these steps for 2-3 minutes.
- If you have trouble using your knees, you can practice this pose by keeping your hands on a table or support.
Exercise for Hips
Maintaining hip-joint health relaxes your muscles and realigns the joints. Here is a simple exercise you can try with five or more steps of stairs:
- Start by keeping your right foot on the floor.
- Lean forward and put your right hand on the fourth (or fifth) step of the stair.
- Use your other hand to lift the left foot and keep it on the third step.
- Place your both hands on an upper stair and stretch your right leg.
- Tighten your right buttock and align it in a straight line by bending your left knee. Lift your front hip bones to stretch your thigh muscles.
- Breathe, relax, and hold the pose as long as you are comfortable.
- Repeat the steps on the other side by switching legs.
Summing it Up
Gentle yoga has proven to be an effective remedy in treating Osteoarthritis. If you or any of your loved ones are suffering from Osteoarthritis, yoga can help in increasing flexibility and reducing pain & stiffness. The yoga poses mentioned in this article not only manage your arthritis, but they improve your mental and physical health as well.
However, before you start practicing these yoga poses, it’s best to consult your doctor. Additionally, discuss your medical condition with your yoga instructor to understand your limits. The best approach would be to start small and build your way up as you gain confidence and strengthen your joints and muscles.