Keeping our joints healthy is key to retaining our ability to move freely over our lifetime. Unfortunately, for most people, the joints begin to wear out in the later stages of life, slowing our movements and, in the worst cases, leading to the need for joint replacement.
However, there are ways to prevent or slow this process, says renowned yoga therapist Doug Keller in this free download.
In particular, if we learn to work properly with our joints in our yoga practice, yoga can be an incredible tool for maintaining healthy joints and preventing issues like arthritis over a lifetime.
How to Keep Your Hip Joints Healthy: The Importance of Hydration
The key to keeping your joints healthy, notes Doug, is very simple: Keep them moving!
For example, the cartilage of the hips depends upon what’s called intermittent compression for removing waste products and the influx of nutrients, says Doug.
“When you’re walking, for example, it puts pressure on the cartilage, squeezing out the synovial fluid,” notes Doug. “And then when you take the pressure off the leg, as you swing the leg forward, it releases the cartilage and soaks the fluid back in. That’s what hydrates and keeps the cartilage healthy.”
Walking is a great exercise for the health of the hips; however, it’s not enough because we’re only working in a certain range of motion, so other parts of the cartilage in the hips get neglected.
This is why hip openers in yoga are so important. They move the hips in all directions of movement, which has a beneficial effect on the cartilage on the other parts of the hips, says Doug.
“But it’s important to understand that hip openers are not about how far you take your hips; we all have different bony structures,” notes Doug. “Rather, hip openers are about what you’re doing for the cartilage through consistent movement and a variety of asanas that “hydrate” the cartilage to keep it nourished.
Yoga Can Help, Yoga Can Hurt: Avoid Overstretching and Inflammation
While yoga can help, it can also hurt, notes Doug. Aggressive stretching can overextend soft tissues, actually destabilizing the joints over time. This sparks inflammation, which can spread, trigger immune responses, and start a degenerative cascade toward arthritis.
Fortunately, if we learn how to work correctly with the hip joint in yoga, a gentle, gradual expansion of the range of motion can help reverse this cycle by reducing inflammation naturally.
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