How to Safely Practice Yoga With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis can be very painful some days, making it hard to feel motivated to exercise. But regular daily activity is important for anyone with this condition, because stronger muscles help support arthritic joints. On top of that, the movement can decrease the inflammation that causes joint stiffness.
Exercise also helps people stay healthier and stronger, as well as keep them at an ideal weight. Rheumatoid arthritis patients are at a higher risk for both heart disease and diabetes, but exercise can reduce the risks for each of these.
A patient may struggle to find the motivation to exercise with rheumatoid arthritis because of the pain, but it is important to follow a daily activity regimen to support the arthritic joints. Exercise can also help decrease joint stiffness and inflammation, and it keeps people strong and healthy in general.
People with rheumatoid arthritis should try different kinds of exercises to see what works best for them. One such option that comes highly recommended is yoga. It increases strength, flexibility, and keeps practitioners mentally sound. Yoga tests a person’s flexibility, stamina, and balance, as well as induces relaxation and decreases stiffness and joint tenderness. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you can take better care of yourself by being physically and mentally stronger.
Take up a gentler form of yoga. Slow-paced styles include Hatha and Anusara. Effective ones are power yoga, Asthanga, and Bikram. The traditional poses can be modified in order to optimize your body’s limitations. To help relieve the pressure points on the joints, make small adjustments and use foam blocks or yoga straps.
- Try using a foam block for hand placement when you go into the downward dog pose. In this, your body is in the position of an upside down V, your hips and buttocks are in the air, and your hands and legs isometrically support your body weight. The blocks can help remove the pressure from your fingers. Place the two blocks flat on the floor, against the wall, and push on the short ends of the block. With your hands, hold onto the blocks while facing the wall, press your hips back, and distribute the weight of your body from the palms to the soles of the feet.
- Try using a folded blanket for a shoulder stand. While you lift your hips, legs, and back into the air, the strain on your neck should be minimized as much as possible. You can also add a yoga block for the shoulder stand. Place the folded blanket beneath the shoulder. As you lie on your back, put the yoga block within your reach. Keeping the soles of the feet flat on the floor, raise your legs, then slide the block under your hips at the lowest height, being sure to lift your hips slowly. Place your tailbone down onto the block. Your hips and tailbone should feel the support of the block, and now you can raise your legs.
- When doing a classic twist of the spine, blocks may also be of help. Lay flat on your back and turn your torso with the arms stretched out on either side. Both your legs should come to one side. Now, bring them to the other side. Be sure to bend your knees, as this will protect the hips and knees from strain. Place a yoga block between them for added support. There are many modifications to the spinal twist; one is a half spinal twist, and the other involves the use of a chair.
- Some yoga poses should not be practiced at all with rheumatoid arthritis, such as handstands, since, despite modifications, they still put pressure on certain points. Talk to your doctor before engaging in any type of exercise. Find a yoga instructor who has experience working with people who have rheumatoid arthritis, as they will better understand your disease and the limitations it places on your body.