Concerned about slowing or preventing osteoarthritis? You are not alone.
An estimated 21-25% of the population struggle with osteoarthritis, a painful degenerative condition that most commonly affects the hip, knee and shoulder joints.
Well, here is some good news. A growing body of research suggests that yoga can indeed benefit people with arthritis and even help slow its development.
At the same time, cautions yoga therapist and corrective exercise specialist Lynn Crimando in this free download, not any type of yoga will help. Practicing yoga with bad body mechanics can have the opposite effect, creating excessive wear and tear that causes osteoarthritis rather than preventing it.
In this free download, Lynn goes into detail about the many ways in which the physical practice of yoga can facilitate healthy joints. The whole body movement involved in yoga asanas can help support joint function, improve range-of-motion, increase circulation to reduce inflammation, and recirculate joint fluid, easing movement.
Lynn has spent much of her professional life studying both the tools of yoga and the basics of body mechanics, in order to empower her students and clients living with one of the more than one-hundred forms of arthritis. For about seven years she lectured, taught classes, and presented forums throughout New York City on behalf of the New York Arthritis Foundation.
Lynn advises that the best way to manage arthritis is to cultivate healthy movement patterns now. Ideally, practicing with joint awareness can help avoid it altogether. “People think of arthritis showing up in about the mid-forties age-wise,” Lynn explains. “But in fact, it doesn’t just happen. It takes years of bad body mechanics to erode a joint capsule.”
She emphasizes the importance of practicing yoga correctly, with appropriate attention to alignment. Practicing repetitively over time with dysfunctional body mechanics can actually damage joint surfaces and lead to the formation of osteoarthritis, she notes.
“What yogis don’t realize is that doing 108 sun salutations with bad body mechanics can actually be a form of repetitive stress. Yogis can actually damage joint spaces because of the way they are working,” Lynn says.
When the articular surfaces of joints erode painful inflammation will develop in the joint capsule. The bones, sensing a space where no space should be, will actually sometimes grow more bone – called an osteocyte or bone spur – to fill the gap. This can lead to permanent damage.
For yogis, osteoarthritis most commonly occurs in the hips, knees, and cervical and lumbar spine, largely as a result of practicing asana with chronic misalignments.
Lynn further goes into detail about the three things you can do to avoid this issue and make sure your yoga practice is optimized to facilitate health joints.
You may also be interested in Lynn’s course, Yoga for Arthritis: Prevention, Relief, and Principles of Safe Practice.