Yoga With Arthritis Pain
Now its understandable that many yoga movements will cause pain to those who suffer from arthritis but navigating the right exercises is paramount to benefit right. The best exercises for those with arthritis are those that come from the kneeling and seated postures as these help to stretch the hip flexors and lower back as well as improve posture. Plank poses can also be done as they will help to strengthen the core and prevent further injury. With correct form, there is no reason why a senior should have pain all day long due to arthritis. Chair yoga for seniors with arthritis is a proven to be extremely beneficial as you will read next.
This Type Of Yoga Eased Arthritis Symptoms In Study
This study found that just eight weeks of chair yoga reduced pain in people suffering from arthritis.1 Chair yoga is a form of yoga that involves sitting in a chair, standing up and performing yoga poses while holding on to the backrest. There are many different types of chair yoga but the study found that this one caused the least amount of pain compared to other types of chair yoga. This is why practicing yoga for seniors with arthritis is effective at relieving pain.
Have Scientific Studies Of Yoga Been Done In Arthritis Patients
Early studies showed promising results with some improvement in joint health, physical functioning, and mental/emotional well-being.2628 Yoga has an important positive effect on quality of life. People with arthritis may also enjoy yoga more than traditional forms of exercise, and exercise enjoyment is an important predictor of adherence.29,30 This is particularly important considering that, on average, 50% of sedentary individuals will drop out of exercise within 6 months.31,32 Most importantly, a review of yoga studies has shown that serious injuries are rare if practiced under the guidance of certified instructors with avoidance of extreme positions.33,34
Participants in this study practiced specially designed classes that used an Integral Yoga approach. They came to classes twice a week for 8 weeks to practice under the close supervision of a yoga therapist. They were also asked to practice once a week at home. Each class began with questions/comments , breathing exercises and chanting , a warm-up and moving sequence , and isometric poses to increase strength, flexibility, and balance. Classes ended with deep relaxation , a closing chant, and meditation .
If you are interested in learning more about yoga, read on. We hope you will find the following information and resources useful.
Questions You Should Ask When Selecting A Class
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Yoga For Seniors With Arthritis: A Pilot Study
Elizabeth de Hansen Yoga for Seniors with Arthritis: A Pilot Study. Int J Yoga Therap 1 November 2010 20 : 5560. doi:
To examine whether Yoga classes can relieve arthritis symptoms in older adults, Yoga classes were offered once a week for six weeks to 23 older adults in four different senior institutions in East Harlem, New York. Most participants were of Puerto Rican or Spanish-speaking origins, and all had low incomes and little knowledge of or prior exposure to Yoga. Self-reported levels of pain, stiffness and sleeplessness were collected at the beginning and end of the six-week Yoga program. Statistical analyses revealed significant improvements in pain and stiffness, with large effect sizes. The classes had no significant effect on sleeplessness. Twenty-two of the 23 participants also reported home practice of breathing and poses. The results of this pilot study provide promising evidence that group Yoga classes can reduce pain and stiffness among seniors with arthritis. The study also demonstrates the feasibility of this type of intervention: a group format delivered to seniors where they already live or seek resources and that accommodates a diverse range of abilities and health conditions.
Understanding Common Types Of Arthritis
More than 100 different conditions could fall under the umbrella term arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but a few are more common than others:
- Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis among seniors, and its a leading cause of disability in seniors if unmanaged. Appearing most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees, osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage supporting the joints weakens and wears away. Weight loss is especially helpful in managing this type of arthritis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis , another common type of arthritis, is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that causes the immune system to attack healthy cells in the body by mistake, according to the CDC. While theres no cure, RA symptoms can be managed.
- Gout, unlike most other types of arthritis, is generally acute, meaning a flare can come on suddenly and the condition has long periods of remission. Some people can go months or years between flares, according to the CDC. Caused by an excess of uric acid in the body, gout normally only affects one joint at a time.
Despite their differences, most arthritis types have similar treatments. In general, rest, exercise, a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods, and taking the appropriate medications as prescribed by your doctor are good ways to manage symptoms.
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It Improves Flexibility And Range Of Motion In Joints
Patients with RA may struggle with decreased joint range of motion, swollen and painful joints, significant early-morning stiffness, and difficulty performing everyday activities with their hands, Janiski shares.
Yoga can assist with symptoms from RA, as it helps combat some of these issues and preserve current function.
Before Beginning A Chair Yoga Sequence
1. Take a moment to close your eyes and draw your attention inward.
2. Inch your seat out to the front half of your chair. Place your palms on your thighs, up or down, or in another mudra , whatever feels best for you.
3. Plant your feet firmly at hip-distance apart, your ankles right under your knees.
4. With every breath in, try to lengthen up a bit more through your spine. With every breath out, try to soften around that length.
5. After ten full breaths, or whenever you feel ready, softly blink your eyes open.
The following suggestions for several repetitions are just that, suggestions take more or less, as feels best for your body, mind, and spirit today. In the same way, make movements and stretches as big or small as feels right. Move and transition into poses at the speed that feels best for you today.
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Yoga For Seniors With Arthritis Is A Proven Success
So as you can see chair yoga and other specific movements can tremendously help arthritis and similar conditions. As we age we must put extra emphasis on maintaining flexibility and mobility in our joints and not succumb to stagnant moving patterns and lazy mindsets. Try a chair yoga class online today or view local yoga studios offering classes catered towards seniors. Chair yoga for seniors with arthritis is a proven and beneficial practice to keep vitality and youthful movement in the body and spirits high. All the best to you!
For more articles on senior related topics like prostate cancer HaveUHeard has extensive research.
Start With A Qualified Yoga Instructor
No matter what type of yoga you decide to try, youre encouraged to begin with a qualified instructor. Save the yoga videos for later, when youre more confident with your yoga practice. If possible, find an instructor who has experience working with people with chronic conditions like arthritis. This may require a call to the studio ahead of time.
Before class starts, tell the instructor about which joints are affected by arthritis or injuries. He or she should be able to show you ways to modify poses before or during class.
If it hurts, stopYoga stretches muscles, and stretching can feel uncomfortable. Joint pain, however, is a sign of a possible injury and should be avoided. Dont do a pose if it causes pain, even if it seems like everyone else in the class can do it.
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Add In Breathing Exercises For Reduced Inflammation
This practice is especially popular with people practicing meditation. The idea is to focus on the breath which will take the mind off the pain in the body. As a result, it reduces stress levels along with inflammation levels in the body. This helps reduce joint pain and stiffness making this breathing technique great for seniors dealing with arthritis. Yoga for seniors with arthritis is not the only beneficial exercise modality to lower inflammation and such breath work teachers like Wim Hof can help ease pain.
Box Breathing: Box breathing is a form of controlled breathing used to reduce stress and relax. Breathe in and out slowly from your nose. Inhale for four seconds, hold for two seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold for one second, then start over again. You can also use a five-second inhale-five-second hold pattern as well as a three-second inhale-three-second hold pattern.
4-7-8 Breathing: In this exercise, exhale most of your breath and then inhale for four counts, hold your breath for seven counts, and exhale for eight counts. It is important to keep the mouth closed during these exercises and inhale through the nose. This type of breathing exercise is beneficial in conjunction with yoga for seniors with arthritis.
5-4-3 Breathing: In this exercise, inhale for five seconds, hold your breath for four seconds and exhale for three seconds. Inhaling through the nose is the best way to breathe when you perform these exercises.
Are There Any Poses People With Arthritis Should Avoid
The general rule for arthritis patient is that if it hurts, stop. The old adage of no pain, no gain does not apply to yoga, particularly if you have activity limitations. When doing backbends, arthritis patients should keep them relatively small and be aware not to hyper-extend the neck, keeping the head in line with the rest of the spine. For those with arthritis of the hip, be cautious when doing hip openers or poses with extreme external rotation of the hips. Generally, you will notice pain if you are going too far with the pose, but sometimes the effects are not felt until the next day. It is important to be gentle with your practice, especially at first. If you do not experience any pain after a few days, you can decide to gradually increase the intensity of the poses. There have also been some indications that strength training targeted at the quadriceps muscles might not be recommended for those with misaligned or lax knees. However, interventions that balance opposite muscle groups and exercises that improve muscle awareness might help stabilize the knee. As with any condition, it is important to be cautious and pay attention to your body. Also, be sure to consult your doctor and instructor if you experience any pain or difficulty resulting from yoga practice.
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Arthritis In The Hands Or Wrists
- Maintaining finger flexibility is key for seniors with arthritis in the hands. This exercise can help.
- Simply ball your hand into a fist, doing so slowly if its challenging. Hold your hand in a fist for five seconds or as long as you can. Release, and repeat 10 times.
- Some seniors with arthritis find that their wrists get stuck or cant bend as far as they need them to. This exercise can help when practiced regularly.
- Place your elbow on a tabletop with your hand pointing to the ceiling. Slowly push back your open palm with your other hand. Dont push so hard that you feel pain, but do try to go as far as you can. Hold for five seconds, and release. Now, push your hand forward, hold for five seconds, and release. Then do the other hand, and repeat.
- This last exercise may be a challenge if you have very serious arthritis, but it can also be very beneficial.
- Attempt to make an O shape with your hand. Hold your fingers together, bend your thumb, and gently try to touch your thumb to your index finger. Youll get better at this exercise with time. If you can, touch all of your fingers to your thumb to help with dexterity.
Water Aerobics Reduces Stress On Joints
Water exercises for arthritis are perfect for seniors. The resistance of the water helps build muscle while the buoyancy helps reduce the impact on joints. You will want to stand in a section where the water comes up to your chest and then start walking. Thats all you need to do! Try to exercise in a heated pool, as the warmth can help relieve pain. Also, make sure you have a floatation device and someone nearby.
Try These Amazing Chair Yoga Poses
1. Seated Cow and Cat Pose In the seated cow pose, one must sit with legs crossed and hands on the knees. The chest will stick out as one looks up to the ceiling. Then youll bring your chin towards the throat and slowly lower into a cat pose with straight arms until you can fully extend them out in front of you. Hold for a few breaths before returning to the starting position.
2. Seated warrior In the warrior pose, one must sit on the edge of a chair with legs bent. The soles of your feet should be flat on the floor. Then youll raise your arms to chest level and straighten out the spine by leaning forward slightly. Hold for a few breaths before returning to the starting position.
3. Seated forward bends In the seated forward bend, one must sit on the edge of a chair with legs bent. The soles of your feet should be flat on the floor. Then youll raise your arms straight up above your head and lean forward slightly. Hold for a few breaths before returning to the starting position.
4. Forward bends In the seated forward bend, one must sit on the edge of a chair with legs bent. The soles of your feet should be flat on the floor. Then one must lean forward slightly while still keeping the feet flat on the floor. Hold for a few breaths before returning to the starting position.
10. Childs pose In this position, one must kneel down on the floor with knees touching and hands resting on toes.
Hot Yoga Can Help Arthritis Pain
Yoga Poses To Avoid With Arthritis
If you have arthritis, you should avoid poses that can potentially cause any flare ups. For some, this may include poses that require you to balance on one foot or bend your joints, such as your knees, more than 90 degrees. For others, it may be challenging to hold postures for extended periods of time.
Some yoga types, such as Kundalini or Ananda, may involve lengthy meditation or breathing exercises that could be difficult for someone with arthritis to sit through.
Keep in mind, there are a ton of different forms of arthritis and they often have slightly different treatments. The asanas Id recommended for those with osteoarthritis are different from the poses Id recommend for those with rheumatoid arthritis.
Holding poses for a long time to strengthen static muscles is great for osteoarthritis. On the other hand, for rheumatoid arthritis you dont want to be holding poses for that long. People with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis should avoid high-intensity yoga postures, and prolonged immobility in seated or lying positions.
Now before I get into the poses, remember: arthritis is no joke. Even with these yoga pose suggestions, its super important to learn and practice them under the supervision and guidance of a yoga instructor or a yoga therapist.
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Seated Cat/cow Yoga Flow And Torso Circle
1. Lift your heart to the sky on an inhalation, creating a slight backbend shape. Let your head follow the movement as it will.
2. Curve inwards from your navel and make a c-shape in your spine as you breathe out, again letting your head follow the movement as it will.
3. Take five rounds.
4. Add a side-to-side dimension to the movement by taking your torso in circles. Do five circles, and then switch direction. Then take a moment in stillness to breathe and notice how your body feels.
How Do I Find A Qualified Yoga Instructor And Yoga Classes
The Yoga Alliance is the national registration body for yoga instructor and facilities. You can search the Yoga Alliance website for a list of certified yoga instructors in your area. You can contact an instructor directly for information about classes and/or private instruction. Private lessons will be costlier but will ensure that you receive proper attention and guidance, particularly if you are just beginning, or have special needs or concerns related to your arthritis. To find a yoga therapist who offers small therapeutic classes or individual sessions, look to the International Association of Yoga Therapists . Additionally, to find teachers and therapists with specialized training in arthritis, consider contacting Yoga For Arthritis for a recommendation.
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