Frequently the question of arthritis and exercise arises, and we actually discussed this in Arthritis – Exercise and Rest.
Exercise for arthritis is necessary to maintain healthy joints, relieve stiffness, reduce pain and fatigue, and improve muscle and bone strength.
Many different types of exercise can work for arthritis sufferers. Is yoga one of them? Serena Gordon, journalist for HealthDay Reporter looks at the pros and cons:
Chances are that you’ve heard good things about yoga. It can relax you. It can get you fit — just look at the bodies of some celebrities who sing yoga’s praises. But is yoga the panacea that so many believe it to be?
Yes and no, say the experts. Though yoga certainly can’t cure all that ails you, it does offer significant benefits.
“Yoga is great for flexibility, for strength, and for posture and balance,” said Dr. Rachel Rohde, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and an orthopedic surgeon for the Beaumont Health System in Royal Oak, Mich.
“Yoga can help with a lot of musculoskeletal issues and pain, but I wouldn’t say it ‘cures’ any orthopedic condition,” she said.
“Physically, yoga helps to strengthen the muscles that have been weakened from a lack of movement, and the stretching in yoga helps with muscular tightness,” Rohde said. “It also helps with discomfort from lying in bed or discomfort from a procedure.”
Results from medical research on yoga are mixed, according to the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, though the findings tend to be more positive than negative.
Yoga has been found to improve quality of life, reduce stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression and back pain. It has also been found to lower heart rate and blood pressure.
And, perhaps not surprisingly, yoga has been shown to improve fitness, strength and flexibility, according to the alternative medicine center.
Research on arthritis has produced various results so, according to the center, the jury is still out on whether yoga may be helpful for arthritis.
Health experts note, however, that yoga should be considered a complementary therapy, not a replacement for standard therapy.
The good news is that yoga is generally very safe to try. Some people, including those with severe arthritis, may need to modify poses to reduce the chance of injury.
It’s important to start with a beginner class and “take baby steps in the beginning,” said Dr. Ruby Roy, a chronic disease physician at LaRabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago who’s also a certified yoga instructor. “Don’t feel like you’re competing with the rest of the people in the class.”
“Part of this culture is no pain, no gain, but yoga should definitely be no pain,” Roy said, suggesting that people new to yoga shouldn’t even participate in a class initially. “Sit at the back of the room, and check out the class. Get to know the teacher to see if you feel comfortable there.”