If you suffer with joint pain either due to an injury or osteoarthritis, exercise of any kind will probably be the last thing you feel like doing, but research shows the right sort can improve flexibility and reduce pain.
Yoga has frequently been recommended on the basis of anecdotes, but recent trials at one of the USA’s most prestigious institutes, Johns Hopkins University Arthritis Center, has found that yes, doing yoga really can help your range of motion and levels of discomfort.1

How Can Yoga Help Your Joint Pain?

Osteoarthritis leads to a breakdown of the cushioning substance (cartilage) in between your bones. As this breakdown occurs, bones rub against each other, which creates pain. Yoga helps to improve flexibility and strengthens the muscles surrounding the joints, which can mean less pain and more protection. What’s more, unlike some other kinds of exercise like jogging, yoga is low-impact – good news for your joints.

Here are some top tips for getting the most out of yoga for joint pain.

1. Check With Your Doctor Before You Start

First rule of thumb: be safe. Tell your doctor you are thinking of trying yoga and ask if there are any particular boundaries or restrictions he/she wants you to stick to. You also need to check with your doctor if any medications or other conditions might be an issue (for example a heart condition or high blood pressure). Ask your doctor to put down any concerns or instructions in writing – then hand over a copy of this to your yoga instructor.

2. Find A ‘Gentle’ Or Therapeutic Class

Don’t try this at home! You need the help of an instructor to correct you, in order to avoid injury. Experienced ‘yogis’ often practice at home but as a beginner you really do need help and supervision.

Some kinds of yoga (such as Ashtanga) can be more aerobic and aren’t really suitable for people with arthritis. So you should look for a gentle yoga class, such as a beginners Iyengar group. Some classes are billed as ‘restorative yoga’ in that they focus more on holding poses for longer periods, and many people with aches, pains and injuries have found them helpful.2 You may even be able to find a class especially for people with arthritis. Even if you think you’ve found the right class though, double check – turn up to the class early, take your doctor’s note to the instructor and ask all your questions before you get started.

3. Find A Good Instructor

Look for a teacher who is listed with Yoga Alliance, a worldwide accreditation network. While being registered with them is not a certification, they do require that instructors have a minimum level of training in teaching methodology, physiology/anatomy, ethics, and practical experience (200 hours or 500 hours). Make sure your instructor has experience in working with people with arthritis. If they are a yoga therapist, so much the better. Yoga therapists offer small group or one to one therapeutic classes (you can find one through the International Association of Yoga Therapists). To be certified as a yoga therapist, one must have at least 1000 hours of training and experience.

4. Listen To Your Body

When in doubt, leave it out. It’s normal to experience discomfort during yoga, but if you experience pain in the joint itself or the discomfort seems intense, you may be pushing yourself too much. If in doubt, stop, and tell your instructor. And speak to your doctor if something doesn’t feel right.

5. Make Exercise Easier On Yourself

Through the injection of the naturally-occurring joint substance hyaluronic acid, Viscosupplementation treatment has been proven in extensive research to ease joint pain and significantly improve range of motion, cushioning and protecting your joints.

For a consultation with a pain specialist, call 020 7118 1771.

References

1 https://www.hopkinsarthritis.org/patient-corner/disease-management/yoga-for-arthritis/#studies

2 http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/workouts/yoga/yoga-thats-right-for-you.php