Yoga has a great deal of health benefits.

It reduces stress, increases energy, helps flexibility, improves sleep, builds muscle, etc. It can also help relieve back pain brought on by a slipped disc or by diseases such as scoliosis...

But did you know that yoga is also an effective remedy for osteoarthritis?

For sufferers, nearly 10 million people in the UK, doing two yoga sessions a week can reduce symptoms and provide lasting pain from this condition.

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What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common degenerative joint disease.

This rheumatic disease is caused by the breakdown of cartilage and the subsequent inflammation of joints. This painful condition also causes mobility problems as cartilage gradually disappears and leads to calcium build up between bones. Moving becomes more difficult and also more painful.

Osteoarthritis can affect all types of joints. Among the most common are:

  • Cervical and lumbar osteoarthritis,
  • Knee osteoarthritis,
  • Thumb osteoarthritis,
  • Hip osteoarthritis,
  • Ankle osteoarthritis,
  • Shoulder osteoarthritis.

Medical treatments aim to limit the development of the disease, and improve the comfort of the sufferer. However, no treatment can cure it. Lesions of the joint related to osteoarthritis are irreversible.

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Do you dream of being as agile as a cat? Yoga can help you get there. Source: Pixabay

Osteoarthritis is a disease caused primarily by age; but it may have other causes. Among the known triggers are intensive sports activity and obesity, which both weaken joints.

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Taking Yoga Classes to Relieve Osteoarthritis and Joint Pain

Recent studies have shown the advantages of practising a mild form of yoga to reduce the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.

A team from John Hopkins University in Baltimore followed 75 patients with knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis who did not engage in regular physical activity. Divided into several groups, some of whom practiced yoga every week, two one-hour group sessions and a one-hour session at home.

Results clearly showed a benefit for patients who, after two months, found a better quality of life, with an improved mood, higher energy level and improved physical performance. Pain caused by inflammation of joints was also significantly reduced.

Results were even more positive nine months after the experience as patients still felt the benefits of yoga on their body.

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How Does Yoga Training Alleviate Arthritis?

Of course, given the nature of osteoarthritis, yoga sessions must be gentle and conducted by a qualified yoga teacher to demonstrate the appropriate poses. Lack of joint flexibility related to osteoarthritis can cause injury if the yoga class is too demanding.

Breathing and relaxation exercises are also at the heart of therapeutic yoga. Mastering your breathing and feelings is very important when you want to learn how to manage pain better.

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Gentle poses will also help to soften joints to limit the negative effects of osteoarthritis on mobility and the ability to do certain movements.

Therefore, yoga works for people suffering from osteoarthritis by:

  • Limiting muscle atrophy and ligament retraction,
  • Reinforcing deep muscles that support the joint,
  • Softening muscles to facilitate movement,
  • Improving synovial circulation, essential for strengthening cartilage,
  • Improving blood circulation, to relieve inflammation that causes pain.

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Yoga can be a gentle and soothing form of exercise.
Rest assured, Yogatherapy to reduce joint pain is a gentle exercise! Source: Visual hunt

What Yoga Class Poses Help Joints?

The yoga poses you do must take into account any potential joint problems. The goal is to work the affected areas gently and painlessly. Depending on the type of osteoarthritis, you should adapt the poses so as not to put direct pressure on the affected area.

For lumbar or cervical osteoarthritis, gentle poses in an extended position are perfect for working the back muscles and relaxing them to reduce pain.

Breathing during poses and relaxing between each movement allows you to do yoga gently, while optimising the effects on the body.

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Little by little movements become smoother, muscles are strengthened and it becomes easier to perform new poses. The important thing is to always spare the affected joint and go slowly.

Initially, the yoga teacher (or yogi) will be able to suggest simple, mild yoga poses to carry out with the help of accessories to reduce effort and support the joint. Subsequently, relaxing the muscles will make yoga gradually easier.

By doing yoga when you have osteoarthritis, you break the vicious circle and turn it into a virtuous circle.

Inactivity aggravates disease and pain while gentle exercise strengthens the body and mind and helps to control the development of the disease better.

To enjoy these health benefits on your joints, find a yoga instructor online or yoga classes in London, for example!

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A French/Spanish to English translator, Sarah is currently enjoying travelling around Europe with her work.