Yoga can complement arthritis treatment from your primary care physician by improving your physical symptoms and reduce the stress surrounding your condition.
Yoga describes more than 100 different practices but usually describes an exercise and mind system during which you move through a series of standing, seated, and reclined poses while focusing on the breath. Yoga involves strengthening and stretching, as well as relaxation, all of which are extremely beneficial to those with arthritis.
Yoga can actually change your relationship to pain, too. As you reduce stress and improve your mood, your perception of the severity of your pain diminishes. Read on to learn just how yoga can help you fight back against arthritis. Before including yoga in your self-care for arthritis, consult your primary care doctor at Doctor’s First to make sure it’s OK for you.
Low impact and adaptable
When you have arthritis, regular activity keeps your joints mobile and free, discouraging stiffness that contributes to pain and infirmity. Family physicians find that osteoarthritis patients who don’t exercise actually experience worsening of their disease and progressed symptoms.
Not all exercise forms are suited to people with arthritis. The gentle poses that flow with the breath can be easier on your arthritic joints than more high-impact activities such as joggings, dance, or weight training.
Props, such as pillows, blankets, blocks, and chairs, can support you during poses such as Downward-facing Dog or Forward Fold. Find an instructor who understands your condition and is comfortable helping you modify for it. Your primary care physician can help you find an appropriate studio and give you questions to ask the instructor before class.
Yoga focuses on introspective thought, helping you to pinpoint the source of your pain, face it, and relax into it. Regular yoga practitioners report reduced levels of anxiety, depression, and tension, which helps those with arthritis better deal with their condition, too.
One of the nasty side effects of arthritis is diminished range of motion and stiffness. A regular yoga practice – even daily, if possible – can help you stay mobile by encouraging you to move. Your family doctor can help you set a goal for how often you should attend a class or do a practice at home with an online video.
Stretching with exercises in a yoga class enhances your range of motion. Your family physician has certainly told you how important maintaining full mobility is in reducing your pain symptoms.
The practice is adaptable, too. If you have a particularly bad flare-up, you may modify more than usual, but can still benefit from some movement and not give in to dysfunction. Always listen to your body though. If yoga is causing pain on a particular day, don’t force it. If you are questioning your pain level, don’t be afraid to contact your primary care doctor to find out if you should skip practice one day and come in for another treatment.
Yoga helps you relax and be patient with your body. This helps reduce the stress of the disease that can contribute to inflammation, which only aggravates arthritis pain. You waste less energy on stress too, so you can put more into your day.
Practice for the long-term
Yoga practice can become an important part of your long-term disease management. Use it to help you cope when arthritis pain strikes and you have trouble doing the activities you love.
Despite its benefits, yoga is not a cure. Your family doctor has explained that no cure for arthritis exists. But, combine gentle exercise, such as yoga, with today’s improved medications, a healthy diet, and optimal medical care from a skilled primary care physician, and you can keep arthritis pain to a minimum and ease flare-ups and progression of the disease.
Start with a gentle Hatha-style yoga class, and don’t be afraid to ask the instructor questions about their experience, style, and ability to show you modifications. Never push your practice to the point of pain. If you have questions about how yoga can fit into your arthritis treatment plan, don’t hesitate to consult your primary care doctor at Doctors First.