Yoga has been practiced by cultures around the world for thousands of years and has an extensive list of mental, physical, and spiritual benefits. While we could all use a little stress-relief and inner peace, today we’re going to focus on what your yoga practice can do for your joint health.
Inclusive scientific studies have shown that practicing yoga regularly can improve the effects of disorders that specifically affect joints such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Yoga reduces joint pain and improves joint flexibility and function. Let’s take a closer look at the many ways a consistent yoga practice benefits your joints.
Joint Support. Each of your moveable joints is supported by muscles that surround it. Yoga postures utilize and strengthen these muscles and prevent the locking out of joints. By engaging your muscles and maintaining good form in your yoga practice, you increase your ability to support your joints in everyday activities as well. Taking pressure off your joints also helps to decrease chronic pain.
Strong Bones. Your bones are not static body parts; they are constantly regenerating to try to stay strong. Yoga helps counteract the effects of the bones weakening. If bones are mostly inactive, it tells the bone cells that there is no need to keep producing new cells. Weight-bearing yoga postures send signals to your bones’ cells to increase new cell production, keeping bones strong and healthy.
Having strong bones is also important if you ever have to undergo a total joint replacement. Patients with strong, healthy bones see their joint replacements last significantly longer than those with osteoporotic bones.
Healthy Cartilage. Cartilage is a connective tissue found in your joints between bones. It’s a flexible material and acts as a padding between the bones, preventing them from rubbing together. Like bone, cartilage can also start to degenerate due to immobilization. As cartilage degenerates, joint pain will start to increase. Yoga can help keep your cartilage stimulated.
Circulates Synovial Fluid. Synovial fluid is a gelatinous substance that surrounds moveable joints and like cartilage, prevents friction as joints move. Staying active and mobile, as well as staying hydrated throughout the day, keeps your synovial fluid circulating and healthy. Keeping this vital fluid healthy allows for bones and cartilage to slide easily past one another.
Range of Motion. A physical yoga practice helps to increase the amount that you can move your joints. Each joint has a natural range of motion; for example, wrists have a normal range of flexion up to 90 degrees and extension up to 70 degrees. By practicing yoga regularly, you may be able to increase your normal range of motion and find that your wrists are more capable of performing day-to-day activities like sweeping or playing golf.
Endless Benefits. Yoga’s benefits are far-reaching, and I recommend this form of exercise to all of my patients as a way to promote healthy joints for a lifetime. In addition to the benefits listed above, yoga improves psychological health, lung capacity, protects from future injury, and much more.
You can find beginner yoga routines on YouTube or guides to simple poses on the internet. You will start to reap the benefits of yoga by practicing for just ten to twenty minutes a day.
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